Rondout Creek is a major tributary of the Hudson River, and improving water quality in the creek has been a focus of Hudson Riverkeeper for several years. The upper part of the creek is dammed to create one of the reservoirs in New York City’s drinking water supply system, and the lower part of the creek is a beloved destination for wildlife viewing, paddling, fishing, and other recreation as it flows through small communities, farms, and forests before reaching the Hudson River at Kingston, NY. The final reach of the Rondout is part of the Hudson River Estuary and is critical habitat for aquatic life, including river herring and other Atlantic Ocean species that spawn in the estuary. More than 100,000 people rely on drinking water from the Hudson River in the vicinity of the creek’s confluence.
Here are some signs of progress in the restoration and protection of this creek.
- New York State has committed to investing $3.8 million to improve wastewater infrastructure in the Rondout Creek Watershed in the last year. These investments will reduce sewage overflows and improve aging treatment systems. Upgrading the eight treatment plants and 163 miles of sewer pipes in this watershed will cost at least $17.6 million over time. The good news is that, with new factsheets created by Riverkeeper, state legislators whose districts overlap the watershed can now see at a glance how their advocacy for state funding made possible by New York’s landmark Clean Water Infrastructure Act will benefit water quality in their district — and how they need to work with colleagues to address water quality issues at a watershed scale.
- The all-volunteer, community-led Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance, with support from Hudson Riverkeeper, organized four volunteer events to remove trash, and plant and maintain trees along the shorelines of the creek. These events, and the ongoing work of the Alliance, have brought public attention to the creek and given the community tangible ways to get involved. The Alliance’s “Let’s Go Fishing for Tires!” removed 34 tires in one day.
- Building on a mapping analysis by Waterkeeper Alliance, Hudson Riverkeeper identified the importance of improving maintenance and management of private septic systems as a high priority for improving water quality, given the widespread unsuitability of soils for septic systems and water quality data suggesting diffuse sources of contamination. Riverkeeper has drafted a report outlining some of the ways New York State communities have improved management of failing septic systems, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called “One of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems.”
These projects are not only tangibly helping the creek and communities in its watershed, but supporting broad efforts to establish wildlife corridors, create new public trails and parks, restore habitats, and to build resilient local systems that mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Feature image: Paddling the Rondout Creek. Photo courtesy Hudson Riverkeeper.