Report Finds Parts Of Hudson Fail To Meet Standards For Swimming

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Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance staff and friends swam in the Hudson River at Croton Point Beach July 17, 2014, as part of the Swimmable Water Challenge.
Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance staff and friends swam in the Hudson River at Croton Point Beach July 17, 2014, as part of the Swimmable Water Challenge. Photo Credit: Leah Rae

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y -- Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance's report “How’s the Water 2014” shows that many locations in the Hudson River are failing to meet federally recommended guidelines for safe swimming.

The report says increased investments in infrastructure, upgrades to state water quality standards and enforcement of pollution laws are needed to rectify the problem. 

Some key findings include the following:

Twenty-three percent of Riverkeeper’s samples failed safe-swimming guidelines, and would have prompted the temporary closing of swimming areas managed according to federal Environmental Protection Agency's recommendations.

Sixty-one percent of Riverkeeper’s 74 sampling locations in the Hudson River Estuary fail EPA criteria for recreational water. Regulators should improve pollution controls to reduce contamination from human, agricultural, livestock and other sources.

Rainfall triggers a threefold increase in failure rate, from 12 percent of samples taken in dry weather to 34 percent after rainfall. One key to reducing this failure rate is to invest in wastewater infrastructure upgrades.

Certain tributaries are often more contaminated than the river itself, and act as pollution sources. The failure rate at sample sites in the tidal portion of tributaries was 34 percent, compared to 18 percent at sites in the mid-channel of the river. The failure rate was higher still in the non-tidal portions of six tributaries sampled by citizen scientists.

Testing by government agencies is currently inadequate to protect public health. Testing must be frequent and widespread to match the public’s use of the water, and adhere to EPA recommendations. Predictive models should be developed for recreational waters.

To learn more,  register to join one of two free 45-minute webinars on Wednesday, July 23, at 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. Registration is available here. 

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