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And the 2014 Golden Toilet Goes to…

Day View of Hudson from Pier 26

The view of Manhattan and the Hudson River from Pier 26. (Photo by Dan Shapley/ Riverkeeper)
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Citizen scientists with the New York City Water Trail Association, the River Project and area boat clubs met to see the 2014 data and talk about next steps. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

Citizen scientists with the New York City Water Trail Association, the River Project and area boat clubs met to see the 2014 data and talk about next steps. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

Citizen scientists who test the water quality at nearly 40 locations weekly along the New York City waterfront gathered at the River Project in Manhattan Tuesday to celebrate the end of the third season of sampling, and to bestow the not-so-coveted 2014 Golden Toilet Award.

In 2011, Riverkeeper assisted the New York Water Trail Association and The River Project in the creation of the largest of eight citizen science projects testing local waters consistent with the methods developed by Riverkeeper and our science partners at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and CUNY Queens College for our ongoing Hudson River Estuary water sampling project.

The view of Manhattan and the Hudson River from Pier 26. (Photo by Dan Shapley/ Riverkeeper)

The view of Manhattan and the Hudson River from Pier 26. (Photo by Dan Shapley/ Riverkeeper)

Each sampling location is an access point, and most are sampled by members of boat clubs and other waterfront organizations throughout New York City, New Jersey and as far north as Yonkers. Labs at the River Project, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, CUNY Queens and — most recently — the Center for the Urban River at Beczak in Yonkers, process the results. As of this year, all this citizen data is posted not only by the New York City Water Trail Association, but also at riverkeeper.org.

Many of these self-described “river rats” gathered Tuesday to see the data, discuss advocacy goals for using the data to stop pollution, and to celebrate a job well done.

And then there was the bestowing of the 2014 Golden Toilet Award, which was accepted by members of the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, on behalf of the Saw Mill River, where every single sample in 2014 failed to meet safe swimming guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. (Riverkeeper’s monthly samples at the mouth of the Saw Mill River show a high rate of failure, but not nearly 100%, most likely because the tributary water is mixed with the overall cleaner Hudson where we sample.)

Citizen data for the Saw Mill River in 2014.

Citizen data for the Saw Mill River in 2014.

The recipients, Jerry Blackstone and Robert Hothan, accepted with an appropriate sense of reverence, and acknowledged that the first step toward a cleaner river is identifying the problems it has.

Jerry Blackstone and Robert Hothan accepted the Golden Toilet Award from Rob Buchanan. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

Jerry Blackstone and Robert Hothan accepted the Golden Toilet Award from Rob Buchanan. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

The Golden Toilet was signed by citizen samplers and bears the message "Congratulations ... sort of." (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

The Golden Toilet was signed by citizen samplers and bears the message “Congratulations … sort of.” (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)

The view of Manhattan and the Hudson River after dark from Pier 26. (Photo by Dan Shapley/ Riverkeeper)

The view of Manhattan and the Hudson River after dark from Pier 26. (Photo by Dan Shapley/ Riverkeeper)

Keep the Hudson River flowing!
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