Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Haverstraw Bay Sunset

With sunsets like this, we're going to be mighty sad to haul the boat out of the river on Friday.  We took this in Haverstraw Bay on our way back to the boatyard. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Sparkill Watershed Alliance!

This week the Sparkill Watershed Alliance (SWA) celebrated it's 1st Anniversary with a gathering at Aleksandra Becnel's creek-side home, the perfect setting!

A handful of the Sparkill Watershed Alliance members celebrating!

(Right to Left) SWA Founder, Laurie Seeman, yours truly and Sparkill Creek

The Sparkill Creek is the only site in Riverkeeper's Water Quality Testing Study where water quality samples are collected from the land, not from the patrol boat. The surprisingly poor water quality we found in the Sparkill (it's the most frequently contaminated site in our study) inspired Rockland County clean water advocate Laurie Seeman to form a citizen alliance to learn more about the Sparkill and address its pollution problems.

Since its first meetings in the fall of 2010, the Sparkill Watershed Alliance has launched a number of initiatives to promote, protect and study this precious natural resource. They collaborate with legislators, educators, wastewater treatment plant representatives, and state and local agencies to achieve their clean water goals.

In collaboration with Riverkeeper's Water Quality Program, SWA is conducting an expanded, citizen-led water quality study on the creek. Our shared goal is to identify the source(s) of the sewage contamination in the creek and clean them up.

SWA collecting water samples from the New Jersey arm of the creek

SWA members collecting samples from a site in Tappan, NY

John explaining how the samples will be incubated and scored for sewage contamination levels

The Sparkill Watershed Alliance is documenting and studying the creek with other tools as well, working towards a Sparkill Watershed Report Card. With Butch Rosenfeld, a staff scientist with the NYC DEP, they have been collecting and studying macro-invertebrates, another indicator of water quality conditions.

Collecting samples from the creek in Tackamac Town Park this summer

Butch Rosenfeld explaining what macro-invertebrates tell us about water quality

These bugs spell good news for the upriver section of the creek

The work that the Sparkill Watershed Alliance has undertaken on behalf of the creek that threads through their communities is an inspiration to many, and a gift to the thousands of residents of the Sparkill watershed.

The Hudson River and its tributary streams, rivers and creeks need 100 more citizen groups like SWA to take ownership of their well-being. Riverkeeper is here to provide guidance and support but we need true public engagement and stewardship if we are going to achieve and maintain clean, healthy waterways in our communities.

Happy 1st Birthday Sparkill Watershed Alliance, may you enjoy many, many more!

Laurie's inspiration - clean waterways for children
Laurie and John with campers from Strawtown Studio's Summer Waterways Program

Photos courtesy of Laurie Peek and Tracy Brown

Monday, November 21, 2011

CBS News Interview with Captain John

CBS News came aboard recently to discuss Hudson River turbidity following Hurricane Irene.

Patrol Report: Troy Fuel Dock and Hoses

Last week, we were southbound from Waterford during our November patrol.   After transiting the Federal lock, we photographed the Troy Dock fuel hoses and overturned floating dock sections, which were flipped during Irene. Note that, in addition to the two large blue fuel lines coming over the wall between fuel storage tanks and pumps, the two smaller diameter hoses from pumps to fuel nozzles are also in the water.  We notified DEC enforcement, who then contacted the DEC Region 4 Spill Response team  and they currently looking into the situation to ensure that the fuel hoses are removed from the river.  

Then, a few minutes later, we came upon a section of floating dock caught under the bow of the Capt JP II moored to the Troy bulkhead just north of the Congress Street Bridge. No one was aboard so we called the Army Corps maintenance facility located just above the Federal Lock and reported the situation. They thanked me for the report.  The City was also notified about the section of dock caught under the Capt JP II.

As of today, we received a call from a member of the public who has been monitoring the situation for us. The float under the bow of the Capt JP II has been removed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Esopus Creek Continues To Run Red

The level of turbidity in the Lower Esopus Creek continues to run extremely high at the mouth of the creek as it empties muddy red water into the much clearer Hudson River. The below photos were taken on November 11 during our November patrol.

It has a similar appearance to last winter when NYS Department of Environmental Conservation brought an enforcement action against the NYC Department of Environmental Protection for their on-going turbid releases from the Ashokan Reservoir without any authorization. Now these releases are being made with the knowledge and acquiescence of DEC. 

Creek life and the Lower Esopus communities suffer when subjected to constant muddy conditions. Riverkeeper is working with local stakeholders to try to protect the creek from these on-going discharges from the city's reservoirs that harm water quality downstream.

DEC Region 4 Enforcement Patrol

Left to right: Captain Mike St Jeanos, Officer Scott Daly, Officer Martin Skotarczak (their colleague, Officer Anthony Glorioso was aboard in October). 

Last Friday we had Department of Environmental Conservation's Region 4 law enforcement officials aboard for a patrol from Saugerties to Waterford.  We’ve worked with DEC Region 4 law enforcement before but this full day regional patrol together is a first.

It was great to spend the day sharing info about cases and areas of concern -  I learned a lot.
We observed several issues which they indicate they will follow up on next week.

Already in the works are possible joint efforts in the upper Estuary during the 2012 season.

I really appreciate the opportunity this relationship offers. Together we can to do more to protect the River.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Post-Irene with the DEC Fisheries Team

Last week, we had a CBS film crew aboard to discuss post-Hurricane Irene river conditions.  By sheer luck, the DEC fisheries team happened to be out doing beach seins for young-of-year fish as part of a long-term study on Hudson River fish species.  Based on their numbers from this season, they reported that they had not seen a reduction in young fish following the storm.  This is great news because we were worried.  

While the hurricane probably had an impact on fish behavior, we won't know exactly how they fared until next year.  The CBS clip will be available soon.

The DEC fisheries team discusses Irene's impacts on local fish species with CBS News
A pumpkinseed sunfish collected during a beach sein at Croton Point Park

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween on the Hudson

Sea smoke as we headed southbound for NY Harbor before sunrise.
Tappan Zee Bridge at dawn.

Snow on the Fletcher

Saturday, October 29. The Fletcher in her berth at Westerly Marina in Ossining. The snow started midday. Beautiful.