Blogs > Boat Blog > Water Quality Update: Sampling the Hudson’s source, Newburgh’s water crisis, and Wallkill algae

Water Quality Update: Sampling the Hudson’s source, Newburgh’s water crisis, and Wallkill algae


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August was our biggest month of sampling ever, in terms of the number of locations sampled and the number of partners working alongside us. This is what community science can accomplish!

Andy Juhl and Greg O'Mullan sample at Lake Tear

Sampling the full 315-miles of the Hudson River, Source to Sea – and in 12 of its tributaries
What a milestone for our 50th anniversary year! Our longtime collaborators, Greg O’Mullan and Andy Juhl, of CUNY Queens and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, respectively, hauled equipment to an elevation of 4,295 feet to sample the Hudson at its source, Lake Tear of the Clouds, atop New York State’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. Community scientists working with Riverkeeper gathered samples in 12 tributaries of the Hudson River Estuary and at more than 40 public access points around New York City. In August alone, Riverkeeper and our partners sampled water quality at nearly 400 locations on nearly 800 miles of the water – the most to date in a single month.
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Image by Independence for Newburgh

Image by Independence for Newburgh

Advocating for Newburgh as it faces a drinking water crisis
It was during our community science project with the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance that we learned about the watershed that includes the primary drinking water reservoir serving 29,000 people, and identified significant flaws in the Stewart Air National Guard Base’s pollution discharge permit just upstream. In August, New York declared the base a Superfund site, and Riverkeeper is at the center of work to advocate for comprehensive medical screening for the city and watershed restoration for its drinking water.
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Documenting harmful algae on the Wallkill River
In August, as we completed a round of intensive sampling in the tributaries of the Rondout Creek and Wallkill River as part of a pollution source-tracking project, our Wallkill River Watershed Alliance partners identified a bright green algae blanketing the river. The bloom grew to impact some 12 miles of the river, as well as downstream on the Rondout Creek – creating a public health risk we and the Alliance warned the public about. The community science projects that made this possible are funded in part by the Environmental Protection Fund, via the Hudson River Estuary Program.
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The latest data
Check out the latest data on fecal contamination in the Hudson River Watershed, the best indicator of water quality for recreation. Remember that the data show a snapshot in time, and don’t indicate water quality today.

Hudson River Estuary
Upper Hudson
Mohawk River
Catskill Creek
Roeliff Jansen Kill
Esopus Creek
Saw Kill
Rondout Creek
Wallkill River
Ossining Beach
Pocantico River
Sparkill Creek
Saw Mill River
New York City

Thank you
More than three dozen partners make the collection and processing of data possible, with financial or in-kind support and partnership. In 2016, partners include:

The Ashokan Center, Bard College, Brooklyn College, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia-Greene Trout Unlimited, Cornell University, CUNY Queens, Environmental Protection Fund (Hudson River Estuary Program and Mohawk Basin Program), Groundwork Hudson Valley, HSBC, Hudson River Improvement Fund, Hudson River Maritime Museum, IDEXX, Jarrett Engineers, John Jay College, JSA Financial, LaGuardia Community College, Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Madison-Oneida BOCES, Middleburgh High School, Montgomery Conservation Advisory Council, New York City Water Trail Association and partners, New York Sea Grant, Ossining High School, Philipp Family Foundation, Pleasantville Conservation Advisory Council, Pocantico River Watershed Alliance, Rochester Environmental Conservation Commission, Rocking the Boat, Roe Jan Watershed Association, Rosendale Commission for the Conservation of the Environment, Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Saw Kill Watershed Community, Saw Mill River Coalition, Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, SUNY Cobleskill, The River Project, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, Wallkill River Watershed Alliance, Wawarsing Environmental Conservation Commission, Westchester Community Foundation, Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and many Riverkeeper members.

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