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Riverkeeper & Media Sanctuary create summer course: ‘Source to Estuary’


Water Justice Fellows Shansanique at Otter Creek
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Youth Scientist Fellows and mentors follow the path of Troy’s drinking water – exploring the landscape of water and our place within it.

Water Justice Fellow Shansanique at Otter Creek

Now in its third year, the Water Justice Lab, a project between Riverkeeper and the Media Sanctuary’s NATURE Lab, beyond monitoring the Upper Hudson River for indicators of recreational water quality, now created a summer course called Source to Estuary. This course, open to the Youth Scientist Fellows, follows the drinking water in Troy from its source at the Tomhannock to the Hudson River Estuary, where the water is discharged from treatment plants and pipes along the shore.

Along the way we get to know the different natural, built, and human networks that allow the protection and distribution of drinking water, the restoration of streams, and treatment of waste. We are looking at our non-human counterparts (macroinvertebrates) to tell us stories about water quality and our mentors to share stories of conserving land and drinking water, restoring free-flowing creeks through dam removal and culvert mitigation, landback to the Stockbridge Munsee, treating drinking water, and efforts to reduce pollution in the Hudson.

During the second week of our Source to Estuary summer camp, we were ankle deep in Otter Creek, a tributary of the Tomhannock Reservoir, searching for the aquatic bugs that call this place home. We went to Otter Creek with Doug Reed, Riverkeeper volunteer and founder of the Hudson River Watch, to listen to the story that the macroinvertebrates were there to tell, whether they knew it or not, about water quality and the efforts of the Rensselaer Land Trust to protect the Tomhannock through New York State’s source water protection program.

Otter Creek was passing around us and through us; it would be here long after we’re gone, stubbornly flowing along, giving life, collecting in the Tomhannock, being treated and sent to Troy, through the underground maze of pipes in the thousands of homes, and eventually down the drain back through the maze, to the wastewater treatment plant, and finally the Hudson. A route that breaks down the boundaries between human and non-human, nature and city. We were and always have been just another expression of nature, bits of earth turned into bodies filled with mostly water, all the while capitalism is trying to convince us we are anything but descendants of this earth. We went to Otter Creek, not just to form new memories and understandings, but to begin the process of remembering that part of us; remembering what we come from and bearing witness to the sources that give us life.

Source to Estuary will continue throughout the summer, and please visit @mediasanctuary on Instagram to follow along!

Photos: Courtesy of Media Sanctuary


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