June 2020
monthly newsletter
Update from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance
Breakfast Webinar Series
Our monthly Mid-Hudson Breakfast Lecture Series continues as a webinar. Enjoy breakfast at home, and join us on Thursday, June 11 from 8:30-9:30 AM via Zoom. Registration and more info here .

Featured speaker Brian Yellen, from UMass Amherst, will discuss research on likely impacts from future dam removals on sediment and the Hudson River. This research was conducted with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The research team estimated the amount of sediment detained behind dams throughout the Hudson River watershed, and compared this to the total sediment budget of the Hudson River.
Wallkill River Summit
The 6th annual Wallkill River Summit is a 2-part webinar series. Join us for updates on Wallkill River projects and presentations to learn more about getting involved.

Part 2 will be held on Tuesday, June 9, from 7-8 PM. Registration and more info here . If you missed Part 1, it's available to view on YouTube here . To learn more about the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance's assistance on MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) work, see the Watershed Highlight below.

Presented by the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance. 
Toast to the Tribs Livestream
Hudson River Watershed Alliance supports the fight against systemic racism. Black Lives Matter. In solidarity, we observed Blackout Tuesday and postponed Toast to the Tribs, the Hudson River Watershed Alliance's annual awards benefit. We recognize "the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard. We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives." #theshowmustbepaused
Our livestream will be on Tuesday, June 23 from 7-8 PM. We look forward to celebrating and sharing the inspirational stories of our Watershed WaveMakers then. You can register online here . The livestream is free to view, with donations accepted.
Watershed Highlight
Wallkill River Watershed Alliance's MS4 Assistance
Storm drain in Kingston, labeled by Kingston YMCA Farm Project, Beautifying and Restoring Kingston, and Riverkeeper.
Stormwater outfall, part of the Village of New Paltz's MS4, carrying runoff into the Wallkill River.
From left to right, Wallkill River Watershed Alliance members Rich Picone, Rob Ferri, and Brenda Cemelli at the Great Wallkill River Race.
The first Wallkill River Roundtable brought together agencies, municipalities, legislators, non-profits, and other partners to improve coordination on Wallkill River projects.
Planting trees along the Saw Mill Brook where it meets the Wallkill River, through the Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs program.
Stormwater pollution impacts a significant number of rivers and streams in the Hudson River watershed. Community-based watershed groups like the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance are working with municipalities to improve stormwater management. 

Urban storm/runoff is the top cause of impairment for waterbodies in the Lower Hudson River Drainage Basin, according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Priority Waterbodies List/Waterbody Inventory. Impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots, and buildings prevent rain from soaking into the soil. Stormwater sewer systems were designed to convey that water directly to rivers and streams as quickly as possible. This has impacts on water quality, in-stream flows, and channel stability. 

MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System . According to EPA, an MS4 is a conveyance or system of conveyances that is:
  • owned by a state, city, town, village, or other public entity that discharges to waters of the U.S.,
  • designed or used to collect or convey stormwater (e.g., storm drains, pipes, ditches),
  • not a combined sewer, and
  • not part of a sewage treatment plant, or publicly owned treatment works.

In 1990, Phase I of the MS4 program began. Phase II followed in 1999, and required municipalities with urbanized areas (based on the US Census Bureau) to obtain a permit for their stormwater discharges. The DECinfo Locator online mapper shows these designated MS4 areas. In New York State, owners or operators MS4s must be authorized in accordance with the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems .

This permit requires municipalities to develop a stormwater management program to reduce pollution in runoff by implement 6 minimum control measures:
  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation/Involvement
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
  5. Post-construction Runoff Control
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping

The NYS DEC's MS4 Toolbox website gives an overview of each minimum control measure, along with other resources.
Rob Ferri is a board member of the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance and retired U.S. EPA Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act Enforcement Officer. Through his work with the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance, Rob has worked closely with municipalities to help them improve their MS4 documentation and reporting. He created a detailed report for the Village of New Paltz to outline all of the work that the Alliance had done, which the Village can use for their MS4 requirements. This included substantial work on Public Education and Outreach and Public Participation/Involvement. 

Wallkill River Watershed Alliance events such as the annual Wallkill River Summit, Great Wallkill River Race, Wallkill Watershed Roundtable, and tabling at the Village of Walden’s Harvest Fair all count for Public Education and Outreach. Participating in the New Paltz Regatta, monitoring water quality, leading clean-ups, and planting trees along streams through Trees for Tribs all count for Public Participation/Involvement. 

Tim Rogers, Mayor of the Village of New Paltz, said, “Our village government has spent significant effort during the last few years updating our stormwater and sanitary sewer conveyance systems. We recognize how these projects protect the Wallkill River and augment the Alliance's important work. Time and again we hear from our constituents how they care deeply about and want a clean, safe, and healthy Wallkill River.”

This work by the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance to support the Village of New Paltz with MS4 documentation was funded by the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, through an Estuary Stewardship Grant that was awarded to Riverkeeper.

Rob also held two general MS4 classes in 2019 to train municipal staff on MS4 implementation and documentation, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Regional Council. To provide more specific assistance, Rob attended a Town of Esopus Stormwater Meeting and conducted a site visit to evaluate Town facilities for compliance with their MS4 permit.

Watershed groups can partner with municipalities to help fulfill permit requirements and improve stormwater management in our communities. In many cases, this is work that watershed groups are already doing, and it's a win-win for these groups to work together.
River Network: EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Resources for Nonprofits

River Network has compiled resources to help organizations be catalysts and partners in building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive movement for our nation’s waters.These resources include materials on white privilege and racial equity; conservation, environmentalism, and race; organizational EDI; becoming an ally; and other resources.

Hudson River Estuary Program Conservation and Land Use 101 webinar series: Best Practices for Local Environmental Review
June 17, 12-1pm

Reviews and approvals of most land development and subdivision projects are carried out at the local level by municipal planning boards and zoning boards of appeal. This webinar will address how to obtain natural resource information for a site, techniques for map interpretation, and effective ways to incorporate conservation principles for significant habitats, wildlife, and water resources into those reviews. Building a collaborative relationship between the reviewing agency and the applicant from the earliest stage of project planning can lead to a speedier review process and improve project outcomes.
Presenter: Gretchen Stevens, Hudsonia Ltd.

Previous webinars in this series have included stormwater management, conserving wetlands, and an introduction to Conservation Advisory Councils and Boards. To see the previous webinar recordings and slides, click here .

National Estuary Program: Coastal Watershed Grant Program due August 7

The National Estuary Program (NEP) Coastal Watershed Grant Program has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for projects that address threats to coastal and estuarine areas of national significance, including the Hudson River Estuary watershed in New York. Priorities include nutrients, loss of habitat, flooding and coastal erosion. This newly created, nationally competitive grant program is administered by Restore America’s Estuaries in coordination with the EPA. Letters of Intent are due by 5 p.m. on August 7, 2020. Full proposals, by invitation only, are due November 6, 2020. 
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance unites and empowers communities to protect their local water resources
This newsletter is supported in part by the Hudson River Estuary Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, with support from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.