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RvK Partners with Public to Test Tributary Water Quality

Tribs_Failure Rate with Hudson (no exploratories)_All dates_v1

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Riverkeeper has doubled the size of our Water Quality Testing Program by partnering with citizens on seven tributaries of the Hudson River. With 2-4 years of tributary sampling data now under our belt, we have expanded our website to include these data which spans 165 miles of tributary waterways in 5 counties and was collected thanks to the effort of 60 Riverkeeper-trained citizen scientists.

Our goal is to provide the public with data and knowledge to advocate for clean water protection and improvements in their communities.

These studies have already supported a number of water quality improvements including wastewater infrastructure repairs, green infrastructure projects and the detection and removal of illegal septic field discharges.

Now, with the data and other research tools available online,
any concerned citizen or elected official can use this information to advocate on behalf of clean water and increased water quality monitoring and reporting by their town or county.

Summary of Enterococcus Data Collected to Date

Tributary Citizen Data_Master_031014

Consistent with our Hudson River study, we are testing for the presence of the fecal-indicating bacteria Enterococcus. We score the results using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for safe swimming and other primary contact recreation.

The five most frequently contaminated tributaries we are monitoring – Sparkill Creek in Rockland County, Wallkill River in Orange and Ulster Counties, Pocantico River in Westchester County, Sawyer Kill in Ulster County, and Rondout Creek in Ulster County – which failed the EPA guideline 88, 86, 77, 76 and 66 percent of the times tested respectively. By comparison, Riverkeeper’s 74 Hudson River testing sites failed the EPA guideline 23 percent of the time sampled, 2008 – 2013.

The two tributaries with the lowest frequency of contamination to date are Esopus Creek in Ulster County and Catskill Creek in Greene County, which failed 30 and 35 percent respectively.

We encourage you to look at the individual sampling sites on the tributaries you visit, or live near, to gain a deeper understanding of the variable conditions at each location and see whether or not the fecal-contamination levels are associated with wet weather, which is often the case.

Laurie Seeman on Sparkill Creek

Laurie Seeman on Sparkill Creek

Sampling arriving from Rondout Creek

Samples arriving on ice from Rondout Creek

Sampling Pocantico River in the rain

Sampling Pocantico River in the rain

Thank you to all our public partners. We look forward to continuing our work together!

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