Blogs > Water Quality > Who cares for the creeks? Meet the community scientists monitoring water quality in the Hudson Valley

Who cares for the creeks? Meet the community scientists monitoring water quality in the Hudson Valley


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This is one in a series of profiles of the community scientists involved in Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Monitoring Program, which samples water at more than 400 locations in the Hudson Valley and along the New York City waterfront. Learn more in the short documentary film ‘Source to Sea’ and explore interactive maps to find data from the Hudson and its tributaries.


The Quassaick Creek in the 1970s was polluted, but that wasn’t unusual to a generation of kids and community scientist Carmine Castaldo.

“The smells from pollution and orange tinted water seemed normal to us,” he said. “There was steam from the factories and other pipes discharging into the creek. The rusted metal from junked cars, cans, oil drums, was just part of our playground.”

Carmine Castaldo Only years later, after reading The Riverkeepers, did he realize the condition of the Quassaick, and became aware of the risks posed by his childhood spent swimming, fishing, rafting, ice skating, and playing along its banks.

That awareness directly informed Carmine’s decision, nine years ago, to get involved with Riverkeeper’s community sampling program. The program was, in his words, “just the opportunity I was looking for, to collect information that will help educate the public, particularly parents, about their local water quality and keep them informed – better informed than my parents’ generation.”

Carmine is one of about 180 community scientists working with Riverkeeper to monitor water quality along tributaries of the Hudson River and the New York City shorelines. Once a month, from May to October, he goes to specific sites on the Wallkill River to take water samples.

In a way, creeks like the Quassaick represent the last of the commons. As land is increasingly consumed by residential lots, box stores, and industry, the waters that flow through our communities are some of the only natural public spaces left. Despite what destructive industries have done, these creeks hold more than polluted water.

In this case, they hold the collective memories of childhood and the chance to escape from the residential milieu that so many come from. Perhaps, above all else, they help create and develop a shared connection to the living systems of our planet. Defenseless in the face of development, and in an economic system with no capacity to value them, who cares for the creeks?

This is where you come in. Volunteer community scientists like Carmine help Riverkeeper sample a dozen tributaries to the Hudson. As a watershed, we are only as a strong as our weakest link, and the water quality in the tributaries is often many times worse than the main stem of the Hudson. How’s the water? Who cares for the creeks?

Help us answer these questions – all with one water sample a month.

If you would like to participate, contact Sebastian Pillitteri at [email protected]; or if you can’t participate but would like to support our work, every $10 you donate can fund the materials for one water sample.

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