Friday, December 17, 2010

Boat Hauled for 2010

We hauled the R. Ian Fletcher for winter work. Our ambition schedule this season includes carpentry, electronics and painting.

The next step is to build a cover shelter that will protect the boat and allow room to work on her. That shelter, and the trailer behind the boat, will serve as my winter office.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

DEC Fisheries End-of-Season Work

As the cold winter winds blow in and docks are pulled from marinas along the estuary, there is end-of-season work to be done for the people lucky enough to call the river their workplace. For the members of the NYS DEC Fisheries Unit that work includes retrieving the equipment they have deployed in the Hudson as part of their Atlantic Sturgeon and American Shad Study.

For many seasons now, Riverkeeper has assisted with the equipment retrieval, putting the muscle of the patrol boat, and captain, to good use.

Mid-season we assist with the retrieval of the hydrophones and moorings, from which data is downloaded for analysis.

This important study helps us to better protect two fish species which are currently in decline in the Hudson and elsewhere - the Atlantic Sturgeon and the American Shad. To better understand the spawning habitats, migratory patterns, and more, the Fisheries Unit catch the fish with nets, collect biological data, tag them, and then release them back into the river. Their tags then transmit information on their movement to the stationary equipment in the river and a boat-based mobile hydrophone system.

Each fish is named after someone famous (a rock star, a character from Harry Potter or Star Wars) which we agree befits their splendor!

The largest sturgeon caught and tagged to date was a 7.9 foot, 230 pound, female. Wow.

For more on these rock stars of the river, and the two-legged rock stars who monitor them and plan for their future, check out -

Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome Citizen Sewage Watchdogs!

There is a trend afoot of citizen watchdogs witnessing and documenting the failure of their local sewage infrastructure. We applaud these people and encourage more to join their ranks!

One such watchdog, Andy Hudak, witnessed a massive sewage overflow when walking along the Saw Mill River in Yonkers after a heavy rain. His report of that sewage spill started a Riverkeeper investigation, which in turn led to a New York State investigation, into the failure of the sewage infrastructure in Westchester County, NY.

Another highly successful sewage watchdog action was this video documenting raw sewage flowing into the Gowanus Canal during a heavy rain.

This graphic video has been viewed more than 40,000 times at the time of this post. At Riverkeeper we happen to know that it has also gotten the attention of NY State and NYC officials, concerned about public opinion and growing concern over our failing wastewater infrastructure.

Here is a great example from Goshen, NY, of a planned sewage overflow documentary. These folks knew where to go in a rain event - to storm drains, manholes, pump stations and the waterways where the sewage overflows are dumped (like the Gowanus).

If the sewage infrastructure in your community is taxed to the point of failure, document it, post it and send us a link. We want to hear about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Floating Debris on the River

Day 1 of 5 day patrol - Ossining to Kingston

River at some locations is full of floating debris, mostly wood, millions of water chestnut seeds, some trash. There was a monster high tide a few days ago and there has been very little wind since. All this stuff was lifted off the bank by the high water and it’ll take wind to sweep it all back ashore. It forms long lines or rafts where it’s being captured by the current. Some you can steer around, others you just have to slide through dead slow.

These photos taken between Storm King and Newburg - Beacon Bridges.

Day 2 of 5 day patrol- Kingston north

Early Sunday morning at Kingston. Unloading “days catch” from yesterday. Containers, one tire on rim, dock foam, bait containers. This is stuff just grabbed with dip net underway yesterday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sewage Overflows into the Saw Mill River at Yonkers

Clearwater Educator Maija Neimisto and Yonkers resident Andy Hudak
sample the discharge.

While on our October water quality sampling patrol, friends from Clearwater alerted us to a sewage discharge in Yonkers. With their help, and the help of a local kayaker, Andy Hudak, samples were taken and delivered to the patrol boat for incubation. The results?

The samples reach the maximum that our system can read - 24,196 Enterococcus per 100/ml - that's 400 times greater than the maximum safe level of Enterococcus as defined in the EPA clean water standards.

Local and State agencies knew about the discharge - an estimated 4.4 million gallons coming from a broken sewage main in Tarrytown. Was the public notified? No. Were people kayaking and fishing nearby? Yes.

New York State needs a Sewage Right to Know law to ensure that our public health officials take the actions necessary to protect the public from contact with known sewage overflows when they occur.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Damaged Barges Dumping Foam into Newtown Creek

A barge remains berthed at north side of Newtown Creek just east of the Pulaski Bridge. There is reason to believe that this heavily damaged barge has been abandoned and has already lost some floatation foam to New York Harbor waters.

We have seen foam blocks on Newtown Creek on several occasions.

Other barges – also presumably owned by “Pile Foundation” - have been at a job site at the lower east side of Manhattan both north and south of the Williamsburg Bridge for several years. These barges also show heavy damage from collisions/age/rough handling and exposed floatation foam.

We have also seen foam blocks in the East River near the construction site on several occasions.