Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has received $24,847 to help Peekskill monitor and protect its watershed through community involvement.
The grant, which was announced earlier this month, is part of a $1.2 million pool of funding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded this year through its Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. The program awarded grants to 50 non-profit and tribal organizations this year.
Sloop Clearwater plans to improve water quality through community engagement and youth empowerment through the creation of an Urban Watershed Steward program with the money.
“Peekskill is committed to protecting all of our natural resources including the streams and brooks that feed the ponds and lakes in our parks,” Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said in a press release. “It is a pleasure to work with Clearwater on this important initiative and we look forward to offering a unique learning and volunteer opportunity to our youth. Understanding the connection between our streams, brooks, and the Hudson River and learning techniques to keep our waterways healthy and clean will reinforce Peekskill’s ‘Green-Clean’ program.”
Comité Latino and Citizens for Equal Environmental Protection along with the Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council, Youth Bureau, Planning Department, and Water and Sewer Department are expected to be active participants in the program.
Sloop Clearwater's program will focus mainly on the following areas:
- The MacGregory Brook basin is located entirely in the City of Peekskill and runs through the heart of the City along, and in spots underneath, Central Avenue for much of its length. MacGregory Brook is a Class C Stream, suitable for fish propagation and non-contact activity, and 80% of the land use in the watershed is urbanized. Untreated urban runoff from at least five documented outfalls is likely transporting pollutants such as petroleum products, fertilizers, pesticides, and household and industrial cleaners and solvents into the brook and the Hudson, but specific levels are unknown.
- The Dickey Brook basin includes portions of the City of Peekskill, Village of Buchanan, and Town of Cortlandt. The brook originates at the Blue Mountain Reservation then flows into a more urbanized area, passing several industrial sites and the Village of Buchanan’s Sewage Treatment Plant, before entering the Hudson River between the Charles Point Recreation Area and the Indian Point Nuclear Facility. As can be expected, the Dickey Brook is a Class C Stream in this lower urbanized portion and Class B Stream, suitable for recreational contact and not drinking, 1.2 miles from the mouth to headwaters.
- According to Riverkeeper’s “How is the Water?” report, water quality at the Riverfront Green poses a risk to residents 25% of the time due to sewage contamination (unacceptable 4%, possible risk 21%). This analysis is based on Enterococcus levels, which are used as an indicator of sewage contamination, which can contain a host of pathogens, parasites, and viruses. Observational and anecdotal evidence suggests that residents are also using the waterfront and mouth of the MacGregory Brook for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and other forms of contact recreation, potentially exposing residents to pathogens from sewage and other toxins from industrial and urban runoff.
Residents interested in participating should contact Clearwater Environmental Justice Associate Karla Raimundi at 845-265-8080, ext. 7159, or Karla@Clearwater.org