By Maureen Krudner
Over 50 friends and supporters of the Hudson River Foundation gathered in Battery Park on a stormy October morning to take an interesting and informative NY Waterway Taxi ride through the NY/NJ Harbor and Raritan Bay. Representatives from government agencies, environmental groups and academia gave presentations on their work to improve the health of the waterways surrounding our city.
The body of work shared with the group was impressive. Starting out north on the Hudson, we viewed Hudson River Park, where we learned that researchers from Rutgers University actually have paddled under the piers to conduct fish surveys. Yes, I’m impressed. Turning south and heading back into the Harbor brought a few presentations by the Army Corps of Engineers. We heard about the 50 foot deepening of several channels throughout the Harbor and stopped by the Bayonne Golf Club, located on a Brownfields site and made possible, in part, from the beneficial use of silt from these recent port-dredging projects.
EPA and NY/NJ Baykeeper provided an update on the Passaic River Superfund Project, one of the largest Superfund cleanups ever proposed. Bank-to-bank dredging of the Passaic River would remove more than 4 million cubic yards of toxic sediment from the river bottom and has a $1.7 billion price tag. Yes, I’m still impressed.
Many of our remaining stops were focused along the shores of Staten Island. NYC Parks discussed the Saw Mill Creek Wetlands Mitigation Bank and waterfront access at the Conference House Park. We heard presentations about resiliency measures being taken on both the north and south shores of Staten Island and interesting research projects that looked at coastal flooding and historic sedimentation. Staten Island was also the backdrop for a presentation on the restoration of Prall’s and Shooters Islands, two bird sanctuaries providing a sharp contrast to the nearby ship graveyard.
And what would a tour of the Harbor be without mention of combined sewer overflows? We heard about the good work of the City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey is doing to address these discharges by installing green infrastructure to manage its stormwater.
Lastly, we heard some great stories about Raritan Bay and the interesting fisheries in the area. Despite the excellent quality of all the presentations, the most impressive aspect of the trip was the dedication and commitment these organizations have to sharing knowledge for a healthier Harbor. Thank you to the Hudson River Foundation for hosting us.
About the Author: Maureen Krudner works in Region 2’s Clean Water Division and is the Region’s Green Infrastructure Coordinator.