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Happy Birthday Sparkill Watershed Alliance!

This week the Sparkill Watershed Alliance (SWA) celebrated it’s 1st Anniversary with a gathering at Aleksandra Becnel’s creek-side home, the perfect setting!

A handful of the Sparkill Watershed Alliance members celebrating!

(Right to Left) SWA Founder, Laurie Seeman, yours truly and Sparkill Creek

The Sparkill Creek is the only site in Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Testing Study where water quality samples are collected from the land, not from the patrol boat. The surprisingly poor water quality we found in the Sparkill (it’s the most frequently contaminated site in our study) inspired Rockland County clean water advocate Laurie Seeman to form a citizen alliance to learn more about the Sparkill and address its pollution problems.

Since its first meetings in the fall of 2010, the Sparkill Watershed Alliance has launched a number of initiatives to promote, protect and study this precious natural resource. They collaborate with legislators, educators, wastewater treatment plant representatives, and state and local agencies to achieve their clean water goals.

In collaboration with Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program, SWA is conducting an expanded, citizen-led water quality study on the creek. Our shared goal is to identify the source(s) of the sewage contamination in the creek and clean them up.

SWA collecting water samples from the New Jersey arm of the creek

SWA members collecting samples from a site in Tappan, NY

John explaining how the samples will be incubated and scored for sewage contamination levels

The Sparkill Watershed Alliance is documenting and studying the creek with other tools as well, working towards a Sparkill Watershed Report Card. With Butch Rosenfeld, a staff scientist with the NYC DEP, they have been collecting and studying macro-invertebrates, another indicator of water quality conditions.

Collecting samples from the creek in Tackamac Town Park this summer

Butch Rosenfeld explaining what macro-invertebrates tell us about water quality

These bugs spell good news for the upriver section of the creek

The work that the Sparkill Watershed Alliance has undertaken on behalf of the creek that threads through their communities is an inspiration to many, and a gift to the thousands of residents of the Sparkill watershed.

The Hudson River and its tributary streams, rivers and creeks need 100 more citizen groups like SWA to take ownership of their well-being. Riverkeeper is here to provide guidance and support but we need true public engagement and stewardship if we are going to achieve and maintain clean, healthy waterways in our communities.

Happy 1st Birthday Sparkill Watershed Alliance, may you enjoy many, many more!

Laurie’s inspiration – clean waterways for children
Laurie and John with campers from Strawtown Studio’s Summer Waterways Program

Photos courtesy of Laurie Peek and Tracy Brown
Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
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