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Riverkeeper’s enforcement successes continue despite crisis


Credit: Laura DeGaetano
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Riverkeeper boat enforcement success

Riverkeeper’s R. Ian Fletcher on patrol.

While we are still working at home and in the midst of the pandemic, Riverkeeper is continuing to enforce the Clean Water Act continuing with the many stormwater enforcement actions we brought in the past year through the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and Super Law Group. These actions not only bring polluters into compliance with the law, they also generate environmental benefit payments that we can direct to other environmental groups. With the powerful support of our members like you, we can make real changes and continue to aggressively eliminate violations. In the past 3 years, this work has resulted in bringing 21 violators into compliance through consent decrees and brought $125,050 dollars to 10 different organizations, including Sustainable South Bronx, the Newburgh Clean Water Project, and the Billion Oyster Project. Even during the current pandemic we are pushing forward with new cases.

Most recently we:

Coeyman’s Creek. Credit: Laura DeGaetano

Noticed significant violations in Coeymans, NY. Riverkeeper discovered water quality impacts in Coeymans Creek near a large industrial park with the help of our dedicated community watchdogs and our Boat Program. We formally noticed violations at two individual polluters and sent a separate notice letter to the owner of the park. These notice letters are a required precursor to litigation, placing the polluters, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the federal government on notice that we intend to sue. We expect these actions will bring the facilities into compliance and improve water quality Coeymans Creek. In addition, our Boat Program continues to patrol the Coeymans area to monitor for additional violations and respond to watchdog tips.

Responded to a watchdog complaint from Dutchess County. Thanks to a tip from a member of our watchdog community, Riverkeeper found a major polluter along the Wappinger Creek and is taking active measures to ensure the site comes into compliance with its requirements under the law.

And here are some of our completed achievements from the past year:

Resolved five cases in NYC resulting in $41,000 of environmental benefits payments for our NYC partners, against three sites on Newtown Creek and two sites in the Bronx. Beneficiaries included the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality and the Bronx River Alliance, who received $10,000 each.

Obtained $5,050 in environmental benefits payments for our partner, the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District. After discovering two polluters along the Wallkill River and Moodna Creek, our enforcement action brought both companies into compliance and got funds to remedy their past harm to the environment. Our partner has used the funds to support its Wallkill River flood mitigation and riparian corridor restoration project, which has allowed them to plant over 300 native trees along the Wallkill so far.

Brought two polluters into compliance along the Saw Mill River in Yonkers, after noticing their violations to the Department of Environmental Conservation. For these two polluters, Riverkeeper was able to spur DEC to inspect their sites, which uncovered violations. Because of our notice, DEC required both polluters to modify their site and operating procedures to stop additional pollution of the Saw Mill River.

Finally, Clean Water Act enforcement is at the core of what we do. As governments enforce less, we must step up and enforce more. We can’t do it without the help of our members. We thank you for all your tips over the years. Please keep them coming so we can further expand our enforcement program. You can email or call us at and 914-478-4501 x231. Let’s keep working together to make polluters comply and make the River cleaner.

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