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‘Hudson 7’ form pioneering river protection council

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Water Quality Program Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper; Water Plant Administrator Randy Alstadt, Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility; Board Member Jessica Lopez, Town of Poughkeepsie, Board member Bill Carlos, Town of Poughkeepsie; Supervisor Paul Hansut, Town of Lloyd; Supervisor Shannon Harris, Town of Esopus;; Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia, Town of Rhinebeck; Supervisor Aileen Rohr, Town of Hyde Park; Mayor Gary Bassett, Town of Rhinebeck; Mayor Robert Rolison, City of Poughkeepsie; Supervisor John Jay Baisley, Town of Poughkeepsie; Councilwoman and Deputy Supervisor Emily Svenson, Town of Hyde Park.
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The Hudson River just got a new and powerful protector. Seven communities have pledged to work together to protect and restore it by signing a first-of-its-kind agreement to form the Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council – “the Hudson 7.” More than 100,000 residents share the Hudson as a source of drinking water, and this council is tasked with protecting the quality of Hudson River drinking water at its source.

The first meeting is Thursday, June 28th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility conference room. The meeting time was set to accommodate any members of the public who wish to attend. This project means a lot to us, and our Water Quality Program looks forward to the Hudson 7’s future successes.

This is the first intermunicipal council to form in the Hudson River region expressly to protect drinking water, and it represents in a milestone in the turn toward proactive protection following the drinking water crises in Hoosick Falls and Newburgh. New York State, at the urging of Riverkeeper, has prioritized source water protection with the passage of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.

As the Poughkeepsie Journal wrote in an editorial: “Communities have shown when they stick together, they can be powerful forces for change. Keeping that momentum going for a cleaner Hudson is one fight worth a mighty effort.”

Collaborative efforts like these are also expected to make the seven municipalities more competitive for grants and other support associated with New York’s historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which will provide multi-year funding for relevant projects, including $1 billion for clean water infrastructure and over $100 million for protecting drinking water at its source.

The concept was the brainchild of Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director Dan Shapley and the Village of Rhinebeck Mayor Gary Bassett. At a meeting on the banks of the Rondout Creek, they decided to reach out to each of the other communities that rely on the Hudson for drinking water.

In ten short months – with much elbow grease, strategic planning and teamwork, all guided by Riverkeeper’s Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard tool, the City of Poughkeepsie, Village of Rhinebeck and Towns of Esopus, Hyde Park, Lloyd, Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck are now unified.

It does take a village – and in this case, a city and a handful of towns – to make the Hudson River a safer drinking water source today, and for future generations of citizens living in the Hudson River Estuary.

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