Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Last upriver patrol of 2012 - Monday 11/19

Catskill at dawn. Sea smoke on the River because air is so cold. Deck covered with frost.
Mike Aguiar, owner of Riverview marine. Left hand is where water reached during Sandy, considerably higher than during Irene, right hand. All his shops and offices were flooded again.
US Army Corps dredge headed south to dredge West Germantown Reach. The River doesn’t really want to be 30 + feet deep - which is what is needed to accommodate the Port of Albany. The natural depth was much shallower before Europeans arrived.
Southbound light fuel barge

The dredge will come back to this temp dock at Houghtaling Island (not really an island anymore because of the Army Corps) and discharge its load of water and sediment onto the peninsula. Remember that the whole river is a Superfund site thanks to General Electric so this dredge spoil isn’t clean.
A photo of the dump on Houghtaling “Island” taken from a book I have aboard – ”Up River.” The land to the north of the dump is a state park. This once beautiful habitat shouldn’t be a dump for contaminated sediment. Notice the tree buffer around the shoreline. It reminds me of the clear-cuts in the Pacific Northwest.

We checked out the active dredging discharge at this dump a few years ago. The interior of Houghtaling “island” is a wasteland.

Duck hunting season. Some blinds are fixed structures and others are built on boats.
Saw this dead Wood Duck near Coxsackie. Could be that it got wounded and was able to fly some distance from the hunter before it fell. There are duck blinds in many of the marshes and on the shallow “flats” – where migrating waterfowl stop to feed and rest. In the pre-dawn twilight I often hear the gunshots - like today. Wood Ducks are beautifully colored, ornamental. Personally, I don’t get the appeal of killing for fun. I’d rather have more live ducks – it’s not like there are so many left in the first place.

A deer skin with head still attached. The fall is beautiful in the Hudson Valley, just not for everyone.

Approach to Port of Albany

Beautiful “strip marshes” below the Port, behind the “degraded” dikes that the Army Corps built years ago to channelize the River.

Port of Albany. A light double hull fuel barge.

Southbound again. The old ice house at Nutten Hook

Goodbye till spring.

Approaching Catskill, only southbound tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last patrol of 2012 - Sunday 11/18

Jack up boat off Palisades across from Croton Point. Presumably drilling for core samples related to either Champlain Express or West Point power cable projects. Both are using the Hudson as a conduit for electrical power cables for NYC. How much must the River give so New York City can have what it wants?

There was a lot of dock foam between Hook Mountain and Haverstraw today. We will be picking up man-made debris set adrift by Sandy for a very long time.

The Bald Eagle nest at Stony Point did not blow away during Sandy. Natural design.

Checking out rail work on east side just south of Bear Mtn. Bridge. We’re meeting with Metro North next week.

This little “marina” at Ft. Montgomery has been sliding downhill for years. Then last year Irene came along and nuked it. Now Sandy appears to have just about finished it off.

At Poughkeepsie there were a couple jet skis out. Water temp is 47 degrees. No wet or dry suits. Asking for it.

“Catch of the day” on deck. Several large foam blocks and a 50 gal trash bag full of bits. All dock foam from Sandy’s destruction.

Running fast for Catskill before light fails. Flat calm as only a winter river can be.

The Catskills

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pollution report: 11/2, 11/8 and 11/9/12 dry weather CSO discharge at Hamilton Av Br at entrance to Gowanus Canal

On 11/2/12, four days after Sandy, we sampled at the entrance of the Gowanus Canal at the Hamilton Av Bridge and found Enterococcus counts >24,196 per 100ml. The water was grey.

The Federal guideline threshold for primary contact is 104 Entero per 100ml.

On 11/8/12, the day after the Northeaster, we again sampled at this same location and again found Enterococcus count at >24,196 per 100 ml. See 3 photos below.

On 11/9 we visited site again and there was still some dry weather flow. See one photo below.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Southbound for two days in the Harbor 11/8

Running into Newtown Creek for the night to be in place for Gowanus patrols tomorrow morning. "Red sky at night - sailor's delight"

Trash and debris stranded by Sandy along Dutch Kill and Newtown Creek 11/2

During high tide during Sandy a great deal of trash was blown by SE wind into fence along the west side of the entrance to Dutch Kill off Newtown Creek (across from “Nature Walk”). All this material remains stranded above wall but will become re-suspended at next extreme high tide – perhaps during Northeaster coming tomorrow, Wednesday 11/7.

Dutch Kill
A similar condition exists along fence on the Exxon property on south side of Newtown Creek immediately east of the Greenpoint Av Bridge

At the entrance to the English Kill (an arm of Newtown Creek) there is a section along west side where a number of drums and other debris have been blown ashore, including a dumpster and several heating oil tanks.

Sandy at Westerly Marina: Monday morning high tide at 1030, 11/29

This morning’s high tide was one foot higher than the one last night, as models predicted. Tonight’s high tide around 2300 will be the big one.

The parking lot is on the left.
The dock systems are cut off from the land.
Circle Line boats running north to hide.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where is the public outrage on the Tappan Zee Project?

The version of the below letter appeared recently in the Journal News. This was written by Elyse Knight, Piermont resident and former Honorary Secretary of the Tappan Zee Preservation Coalition.

At the two dozen-plus Thruway meetings I’ve faithfully attended over the last decade or so regarding the Tappan Zee Bridge project, I and my fellow concerned citizens commented on the various “stories” that we were told to justify replacing the existing bridge. We heard about marine borers eating the pilings (they don’t exist in these waters). We heard about the so-called planned obsolescence ofthe current bridge – the “it was only built to last 50 years” myth (turns out to becompletely untrue, a lie, by the Thruway’s own admission). We heard about the bridge's unfitness to survive an earthquake (by the way, none of the Metro area bridges are. And they stopped talking about that when we pointed out that if earthquakes are a concern, Indian Point poses a greater danger than the bridge).  Now, it seems, they’ve eliminated the one original driving force behind the project: to reduce traffic congestion through the Rockland Westchester corridor. The previously urgent need for commuter rail or bus rapid transit has been completely scrapped. Transit options will become a mere footnote if the Cuomo machine has its way. All we'll get is a bridge—two, actually, each wider, taller than and no doubt just as congested as the one we have now. Governor Cuomo has coerced our local representatives with mysterious, opaque methods and incentives into signing on to his personal pet project, his new bridges. They are bridges to nowhere except more stalled traffic, more bad air, destroyed scenic vistas, gridlocked River Towns, damaged Hudson River ecosystems, and untenable noise for the Hudson Valley.

They have completely discarded other options for which the public has consistently expressed support: to rehabilitate the existing bridge or replace it with a tunnel.  They've also disregarded the democratic process put in place to protect the environment and our rights as citizens. They’ve scrapped all the public comments which were purportedly collected during the 12 years of scoping meetings we all attended, expressing our concerns over air quality, the Hudson, our communities,traffic, transit options, costs, and noise. Now the Cuomo administration has thrown all of that public input into the dumpster. Instead of listening to us, and coming up with the best solution for all of our concerns, they are shoving these humongous new bridges down our throats, ignoring requests for an extension to resubmit our comments, and coercing our representatives into signing off on it. Where is the outrage? One local official I spoke with told me in confidence that dealing with this Cuomo administration is like dealing with the mafia.

Never mind that what they are proposing is illegal. It’s called segmentation: you can’t divide a huge project like this one into two or more separate projects, with two separate environmental reviews. They are telling us, "First we’ll build the bridge, making it 'transit ready,' then, one fine day when the economy is flush with money, we’ll consider putting some buses on there for you." That’s not good enough. They need to share with us the design they’ve chosen (the comment period has closed but we don’t even know what they are planning!), they need to give us full analysis of alternatives like rehabbing the existing bridge or a tunnel, what sort of transit there will be, what property they will be taking, where they will be widening the Thruway and where they will put the bus/train stops. They need to tell us what the impacts will be on traffic, air quality and noise; on local roads and in our communities; and on the Hudson and all its wildlife and fish. Instead, they are planning to do what they planned to do all along with or without our input or consent: build a bigger, wider bridge, with no transit. Guess what’s next? Not public transit, but a widening of the Thruway from Nyack to Suffern. They’ve already done the work on the Westchester side.

So when we visit the TZ Bridge project website, I, and all my fellow Hudson valley residents and public advocates, will never find any evidence of the work we did in good faith to protect our homes, our communities, the Hudson, and the scenic vistas; and we will never have the opportunity to re-submit those opinions, questions or concerns. Again, I ask, where is the outrage? This is an example of the type of political coercion, lack of transparency and manipulation of public opinion one would expect to find in the Soviet Union. Our “dear leader,” Governor Cuomo has spoken, and everybody had better get on board with his plans, or else. Our local leaders have completely failed us. Let’s make sure they understand that we know they’ve failed us, and demand that our voices be heard.

Elyse Knight
Former Honorary Secretary
The Tappan Zee Preservation Coalition

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Squirrel Crossing!

One of our fellow River-loving friends sent us these pictures of a squirrel she came across while kayaking.  She paddled over to it and it climbed aboard for a free ride ashore!