March 2021
WATERSHED DIGEST
monthly newsletter
Update from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance
Breakfast Lecture: Wastewater Surveillance as a Pandemic Management Tool
Thursday, March 11, 8:30-9:30 AM


Featured Speaker: Dr. David Larsen, Syracuse University

Dr. David Larsen is an epidemiologist at Syracuse University with expertise in global health. Most of his career has focused on the surveillance, control, and elimination of malaria while also adapting and applying those principles to other infectious disease systems. Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Larsen has advised on coronavirus surveillance and control at Syracuse University and led initiatives to establish a wastewater surveillance platform for New York State. For this breakfast lecture, Dr. Larsen will speak about how we can leverage wastewater surveillance to improve health security and recover from the pandemic.
City of Newburgh wastewater treatment plan, photo by Steve Stanne
COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance at Siena College
On February 23, Cassidy Hammecker (‘22), Jason Golden (‘22), and Dr. Kate Meierdiercks from Siena College presented on their Covid-19 wastewater surveillance program, including data and lessons learned. A recording of the presentation is available on the Hudson River Watershed Alliance YouTube channel here.

The “grassroots” program at Siena began as an undergraduate summer research project and developed into a collaborative program between faculty, students, staff and administrators. Field collection of wastewater is largely managed and run by undergraduate students. Siena’s program has been successful with modest expertise and funding due to its ability to grow and adapt, dedicated core team, and strategic partnerships.

The Student Research Speaker Series is co-sponsored by The Hudson River Subwatershed and Tributary research network (THuRST) and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance.
In-Stream Relationships between Aquatic Vegetation and Nitrate
Thursday, March 25, 6:00-7:00 PM


Katey Samarro, Marist College '21, will share her research on nutrient concentrations and aquatic vegetation in a section of the Fall Kill in Hyde Park. Her study relates the impacts of land use and wastewater to changes in water quality and aquatic ecology at fine spatial scales. Particular indicator species of aquatic vegetation may help pin-point locations of excess nutrient loading in Hudson River watersheds. Katey will share her findings, along with potential management options.

The Student Research Speaker Series is co-sponsored by The Hudson River Subwatershed and Tributary research network (THuRST) and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance.
Hudson Valley Environmental Justice Coalition
Friday, March 12, 5:30-6:30 PM


The Hudson Valley Environmental Justice Coalition brings nationally-recognized figures to local audiences to speak about environmental justice and the environmental crisis.

Great Grandmother Mary Lyons and Justin J. Pearson will join Rev. Dr. Gregory Simpson for a moderated conversation. Both guests are deeply involved in the struggles against Line 3 in Minnesota and the Byhalia Pipeline in Memphis.

Great-grandmother Mary Lyons is an Ojibwe Elder, formally known as a world-renowned Wisdom Keeper, an Empowerment Coach, Activist and Author. Justin J. Pearson is one of the leaders of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (MCAP) which is a Black-led environmental justice organization seeking to end the racism and injustices in Memphis with the stopping of the Byhalia Connection Pipeline.

The Hudson River Watershed Alliance is a member of the HVEJC.
Photo of Great Grandmother Mary Lyons by Jane Feldman
Are you interested in joining our board?
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance is seeking interested and committed people to join our board. We would like to encourage dedicated, diverse, and passionate people to join the board of the Hudson River Watershed Alliance. We are an active and working board that focuses on uniting and empowering people to protect Hudson River watershed resources and their communities. We are seeking to diversify our skills, experiences, and membership, as well as strengthen our relationships with like-minded organizations across the Hudson Valley.

More information on the Hudson River Watershed Alliance and board responsibilities are here. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone you know (with their permission), please fill out some preliminary information here.
Watershed Highlight
Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance
Map of the Quassaick Creek Watershed from Orange County Water Authority. For a larger version, click here.
Installing protecting fencing for a Trees for Tribs planting project.
Trash clean-up at Crystal Lake in Newburgh.
Monitoring Bushfield Creek to identify potential sources of nutrients causing Harmful Algal Blooms in Orange Lake.
The Strook Felt Dam on the Quassaick Creek, before, during, and after removal. Middle and bottom photos by Jess Dietz.
The Quassaick Creek’s headwaters are in rural Ulster County, and the creek flows 18 miles before meeting the Hudson River in Newburgh. Since 2008, the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance (QCWA) has been actively working to protect and restore the creek and its 56 square mile watershed. While 2020 cancelled certain regular activities, such as their public meetings and Hudson River Eel Project, the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance was able to continue a busy schedule of stewardship. 

The Quassaick Creek Watershed Management Plan from 2014 guides the work of the QCWA. Each year, QCWA reviews the plan’s 54 recommendations and identifies priorities for implementation. QCWA is governed by a Board of Directors, which has been meeting virtually during Covid-19. 

QCWA has been an active participant in stream buffer restoration projects through Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs. In 2020, they planted 110 trees and shrubs at Mill Street in the Town of Newburgh with 20 socially-distant volunteers. They also held four maintenance sessions and a clean-up to tend trees and shrubs that had previously been planted along the banks of Crystal Lake in the City of Newburgh. They participated in Riverkeeper’s River Sweep cleanup with 13 participants. 

QCWA water quality monitoring projects included sampling the Upper Bushfield Creek for total dissolved solids, conductivity, and nutrients to identify potential sources of regular Harmful Algal Blooms in Orange Lake. Orange Lake is the largest lake in the Quassaick Creek watershed, and is listed as impaired on NYS DEC’s Priority Waterbodies List/Waterbody Inventory due to nutrients and algal/weed growth. They met with representatives from the Orange Lake Homeowners’ Association to discuss sources of nutrients and the algal blooms. QCWA is currently working with Bard College to evaluate and analyze their data from this project. They also started a Salt Watch stream monitoring program at four sites with the Isaac Walton League to evaluate possible road salt impacts in the Quassaick Creek watershed. 

The City of Newburgh’s drinking water source, Washington Lake, is contaminated by PFAS associated with firefighting foams used at Stewart Air National Guard Base. The restoration of Washington Lake is guided by the Stewart Air National Guard Restoration Advisory Committee (RAC), which has been meeting virtually through the pandemic. Washington Lake is located within the Quassiack Creek watershed. QCWA has an organizational seat on the RAC, and members participated in the process throughout 2020. 

In additional to working locally, the QCWA works with regional partners. QCWA has partnered with Marist College researchers to better understand microplastics in the Quassaick Creek and other Hudson River tributaries. Gabi DeGennaro, Marist ’21, shared her research at a webinar in January that was co-sponsored by the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance. QCWA has also advised high school students in Newburgh Free Academy’s Science Research Program on microplastics and water. 

In October, Riverkeeper and the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program removed the Strooks Felt Dam near the mouth of the Quasaick Creek in Newburgh. This project restored habitat for river herring and eel to swim upstream from the Hudson River into the Quassaick Creek. Project partners also included Orange County and the City of Newburgh (the owners of the dam); the Town of New Windsor; Steelways Inc.; and the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance.

QCWA provided information to the Orange County Planning Department to meet MS4 requirements, participated in Ulster County Water Quality Coordinating Committee’s roundtable, and attended Hudson River Watershed Alliance roundtables and events to collaborate with their peers. 

Other projects included providing comments on a proposed Central Hudson site clean-up in the Town of New Windsor, signing onto a group letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo on stream protection legislation, and sending a letter to the NYS DEC detailing sampling results including documenting potential SPDES Permit violations by the NYS Thruway Authority’s rest stop locations.

To learn more about the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance, visit their website here. The Quassaick Creek Watershed Management Plan is here (and executive summary here). Read about their work coordinating volunteers in the Hudson River Watershed Alliance’s Work on Watersheds report here.
Opportunities
JOB POSTINGS:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia & Greene Counties: Natural Resources Program Coordinator applications due March 5

CCE of Columbia and Greene Counties is seeking a Natural Resources Program Coordinator responsible for coordinating the Catskill/Hudson Valley region of the Master Forest Owner (MFO) Volunteer Program and natural resource projects and programs in Columbia & Greene counties. The Coordinator works with the supervisor and staff, volunteers, towns, organizations and partners to coordinate and deliver educational programs and resources on diverse natural resource topics.  


Kingston Land Trust: Seasonal Land Steward application due March 22

Kingston Land Trust is seeking a seasonal land steward to help with caretaking, management, and monitoring of KLT-protected lands. The seasonal land steward will help them devote more regular attention to the land so they can continue to heal land disturbed by urbanization and other human forces, develop the local culture of land stewardship, and make land accessible to the public. This is a temporary part-time position starting in April and ending in November.


Rockland Conservation & Service Corps: Conservation Corps Member applications due April 4 (rolling)

Rockland Conservation & Service Corps (RCSC) is now recruiting Corps Members for the summer of 2021. RCSC is a summer internship program that provides members with a wide range of hands-on training and experience, leadership and networking opportunities, and professional development in the environmental field. It's a full-time, 350-hour commitment from June until mid-August. 50 hours of training, 50 hours of community projects and 250 hours of direct service at a nonprofit or municipal host site. All members receive a stipend of $2,300 for the summer. 


Housatonic Valley Association: River Steward internships (rolling)

Housatonic Valley Association is seeking applications for their 2021 River Stewards internship program. River Stewards will work on a variety of projects related to water resource management and outreach. Positions are available in Connecticut and Massachusetts.


GRANTS:

The Funders Network: Partners for Places applications due March 19

The Funders Network (TFN), in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), has announced the next round of grant of grant opportunities for general and green stormwater infrastructure matching grants. Applications are to: create or improve collaborative partnerships between a local government sustainability and/or water department(s), frontline community-led group(s), and place-based funder(s), advance equitable sustainable climate action and/or GSI projects that addresses frontline community priorities, and apply a racial equity approach to both the collaboration and the project planning/implementation.


Climate Reality Project: Climate Justice for All Project Grants applications due March 21

Climate Reality seeks to work with 10 organizations or groups interested in implementing a six-month project-based climate initiative between April and October of 2021. The project must engage and benefit frontline communities, historically marginalized groups, or communities of color in the US. Recognizing that those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution, they will award a one-time grant of up to $20,000 per organization for project implementation. Climate Reality encourages applications from organizations primarily run by and serving people of color.


US EPA: The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program applications due May 7

The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working on or planning to work on projects to address local environmental and/or public health issues in their communities. The program assists recipients in building collaborative partnerships with other stakeholders (e.g., local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, academia, etc.) to develop solutions that will significantly address environmental and/or public health issue(s) at the local level. The EJCPS Program requires selected applicants, or recipients, to use the EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Model as part of their projects. 


US EPA: Environmental Justice Small Grants Program applications due May 7

The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program supports and empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program is designed to help communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. Environmental Justice Small Grants fund projects up to $50,000, depending on the availability of funds in a given year. All projects are associated with at least one qualified environmental statute.


NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program: Local Stewardship Planning Grants applications due June 2

This funding will help communities in the Hudson River estuary watershed increase resiliency to flooding, protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and enhance natural resources. The minimum award amount is $10,500 and the maximum award amount is $50,000, with 15% match. This funding is from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Eligible projects advance four categories of projects and programs through planning, feasibility studies, and/or design:
  • Hudson River shoreline communities to adapt land uses and decision-making to factor in climate change, flooding, heat, drought, and sea-level rise projections;
  • Making water infrastructure more resilient to flooding and/or sea-level rise;
  • Watershed and source water management planning (including assessing and monitoring water quality, developing a watershed characterization, and planning and designing water quality improvement projects); and
  • Conservation of natural resources by creating a natural resources inventory, open space inventory/index, open space plan, conservation overlay zone, open space funding feasibility study, or connectivity plan.


NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program: River Education Grants due June 2

Approximately $200,000 is available to support projects to enhance education about the estuary along the tidal waters of the Hudson and make opportunities to learn about the Hudson River Estuary more accessible. The funding may be used to design, equip and/or construct educational facilities (including signage, exhibits, and river-focused art installations), support development of plans or curriculum, purchase of equipment, and/or development of web sites or mobile phone apps. The minimum grant award is $10,500, and the maximum grant amount is $40,000, with 15% match.


NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program: River Access Grants due June 2

Approximately $200,000 is available in the RFA for River Access for projects along the shoreline of the Hudson estuary, including the tidal portion of its tributaries, that provide new or improved accessibility at new or existing access sites for boating, fishing, swimming, and/or wildlife-dependent recreation. The minimum grant award is $10,500 and the maximum grant amount is $50,000, with 15% match. This funding is from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).


FOR STUDENTS:

Hudson River Foundation: Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship applications due March 29

The Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship program is a student research program of the Hudson River Foundation (HRF) conducted in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This program provides a summer grant ($5,000 for each fellowship) and research funds (up to $1,500) for up to eight students (undergraduate and graduate) to conduct research on the Hudson River. The objectives of the program are to gather important information on all aspects of the River and to train students in conducting scientific studies and public policy research, including projects addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Please note our reminder this year that the Foundation seeks in the Polgar program, as in all of its activities, to enhance its work by supporting participants with the unique and varied backgrounds, circumstances, needs, and perspectives that reflect the diversity of our community.


NEW RESOURCES:

NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program: Creating and Maintaining Hudson River Views: A Handbook for Landowners

This handbook, developed and produced by Saratoga Associates through a NEIWPCC contract in partnership with the Hudson River Estuary Program, is designed to help historic sites, land trusts, and owners of other large properties along the Hudson River create engaging river views using best practices for environmental stewardship. These practices include methods of creating and maintaining scenic vistas that balance aesthetic and historic goals with the protection of habitat and natural areas. Saratoga Associates also created two new views of the Hudson River that will serve as demonstration sites of best practices for creating scenic vistas at The Point at Mills-Norrie State Park in Staatsburg and at the Blithewood Estate on the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson. Saratoga Associates produced a three-part training series, which is now available here
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance unites and empowers communities to protect their local water resources