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WATER  QUALITY  

 

in  the  Sparkill  Creek  Watershed  
Presented  by  
Laurie  Seeman,  Chair  
Sparkill  Creek  Watershed  Alliance  
 
www.SparkillCreek.org  
SparkillCreekWatershedAlliance@gmail.com  
©  2014  SCWA  

Vision    

Through  our  personal  relaFonships  with  places  in  the  
watershed  we  help  the  creek    

©  2014  SCWA  

The  Hudson  River  
Watershed  

*  

The  Sparkill  Creek  Watershed  lies  in  
the  south  end  of  the  wide  bays  area  
of  the  Hudson,  a  secFon  of  the  river  
that  is  rich  with  aquaFc  life.  

©  2014  SCWA  

Clausland  Mountain    

Headwaters  area  of  the  Sparkill  Creek  

©  2014  SCWA  

Sparkill  Creek  is  a  9  mile,  
bi-­‐state,  waterway  that  
begins  on  the  top  of  
Clausland  Mountain.  It  
then  flows  west  downhill  
to  the  base,  turns  south,  
and  conFnues  
meandering  through  
Orangeburg,  Sparkill,  and  
Tappan.  
The  creek  dips  into  New  
Jersey  then  flows  back  
north,  flowing  through  
Sparkill  and  Piermont,  and  
finally  through  the  
Piermont  Marsh  and  out  
into  the  Hudson  River.  

©  2014  SCWA  

Sparkill  Creek    
mostly  meanders    
behind  homes  and  
businesses,  with  a  few  
open  stretches.  
 
Mostly  people  only  see  
glimpses  of  the  creek  
when  driving.    
 

©  2014  SCWA  

At  the  base  of  Clausland  Mountain  

Along  business  corridor  Rt.  303  

Through  Tappan  -­‐    channelized  and  natural  edges  

©  2014  SCWA  

Sparkill  dam  and  spillway  

Piermont  bridge  where  head  of  Fde  flows  in  

Sparkill  Creek  in  Piermont  Marsh  

©  2014  SCWA  

Piermont  Marsh  -­‐  Northern  secFon  of  the  275  acre  marsh  
©  2014  SCWA  

 
The  First  Steps  in  Learning  About  Sparkill  Creek  Water  Quality  
 

Outdoor  classroom  
on  the  Sparkill  
Creek  with  youth    

©  2014  SCWA  

SPARKILL  CREEK  CITIZEN  ACTION  BEGINS  -­‐  A  RESPONSE  to  SEWAGE  

IN  2010,  at  the  Strawtown  Studio  summer  waterway  program,  students  complained  of  the  smell    
of  sewage  in  the  Sparkill  Creek.    John  Lipscomb  of  Riverkeeper  was  called.  The  first  sample  (seen  
above)    revealed  there  was  a  high  level  of  bacteria  from  sewage  in  the  creek.    AcFve  concern  
prompted  a  chain  of  phone  calls,  which  led  to  a  community  meeFng.      Photo:  Tracy  Brown  
©  2014  SCWA  

SPARKILL  CREEK  WATERSHED  ALLIANCE.  Est.  2010    
Meets  the  3rd  Monday  of  every  month  in  the  Christ  
Church  Parish  Hall,  Sparkill      
ALL  ARE  WELCOME!  

©  2014  SCWA  

Group  members  with  John  Lipscomb  
from  Riverkeeper,    
-­‐  selecFng  sampling  sites.  
 
16  Sampling  sites  were  chosen.  
©  2014  SCWA  

Sampling  is  conducted  1x  month,    
May  thru  October    
 

5  Teams  cover  the  16  sites  
 

Sampling  includes:  Enterococcus,  Phosphates,  Nitrates,  Chlorides,  
Dissolved  Oxygen,  PH,  ConducFvity.  OpFcal  Brighteners  and    DNA  
markers  for  ID  of  enterococcus  source  recently  added.  
 

Sampling  science  partners  include:  Riverkeeper,  EPA,  St.  Thomas  
Aquinas  College,  Dominican  College,  Rutgers  University,  Rockland  
County  Soil  &  Water  District.  
 

©  2014  SCWA  

Water  Quality  study  in  the  Sparkill  has  
opened  up  learning  opportuniFes.    
 
Students  from  STAC,  Dominican  and  
Rutgers  take  part  in  sampling    
 
To  the    lej:    Dominican  student  
handing  bohle  to  group  member  

The  hand  off  of  
sample  bohles  to  
John  Lipscomb,  
with  Riverkeeper  
for  incubaFon  on  
the  boat.  

Enterococcus  
incubaFon  trays  
©  2014  SCWA  

Members  also  conduct  chemical  monitoring  in  
partnership  with  the  County  CiFzen  Science  Program:  
Nitrates,  Phosphates,  Dissolved  Oxygen,  PH,  ConducFvity,  and  
Temperature  

©  2014  SCWA  

Stream  Life  -­‐  Macroinvertebrate  Study    

with  MarFn  (Butch)  Rosenfeld,  AquaFc  Taxonomist  

©  2014  SCWA  

The  AquaFc  Insect  
community,  
(assemblage)  tells  
a  lot  about  the  
health  of  the  
creek.    
 
It  can  serve  to  
idenFfy  sources  of  
harmful  impacts  
from  surroundings.    

©  2014  SCWA  

In  Search  of  the  Harmful    
Impacts  on  Sparkill  Creek  
 

Known  and  Unknown  

©  2014  SCWA  

SEWAGE  AND  INFRASTRUCTURE  

•  14  to  17  Billions  gallons  of  treated  wastewater  are  released  oukall  from  the  County  and  
Orangetown  water  treatment  plants  into  the  Hudson  River  each  year.  
 
•  Sewage  inflow  pipelines  follow  the  creek  closely,  and  in  many  place  are  under  the  creek.  
©  2014  SCWA  

Flooding  is  a  major  problem  in  the  Sparkill  Watershed  

©  2014  SCWA  

Heavy  SiltaFon  from  Flooding  

is  the  number  one  harmful  impact  on  the  
Sparkill  Creek,  and  Rockland  streams  overall.  

 
•  Flooding  leads  to  Increased  erosion  of   • 
stream  banks  and  siltaFon.    
•  Heavy  stormwater  rips  out  stream  banks    
           and  causes  high  speed  water  flow.    
   

SiltaFon  buries  life  of  the  stream.  
AquaFc  insects,  fish,  amphibians,  
plants,  algae  are  all  suffocated  by  
stormwater  siltaFon.    
©  2014  SCWA  

Loss  of  Forested  Area  :    
Sparkill  Creek  Watershed  is  Heavily  Developed  and  Building  ConFnues  

Stormwater  heavily  flowing  off  a  de-­‐vegetated  slope  is  
muddy.  If  it  reaches  the  creek  it  fills  the  creek  with  silt.  

Stormwater  naturally  flowing  off  a  woodland  slope  
with  duff  layer.  Less  water  is  flooding  and  it  runs  clear.  

©  2014  SCWA  

Human  Impacts  on  the  Watershed  
include:  

 
Pavement    to  edge  of  creek    
 
•  Allows  stormwater  to  dash  into  the  
creek  with  no  buffering.  
 
 

 

Lawn  up  to  edge  of  creek  
 
•   No  riparian  buffer  
protecFon  
 
•  Increases  flooding  

•  Allows  lawn  products  to  
flood  into  creek  

©  2014  SCWA  

 

Garbage  flows    
into  streams  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Dumping  drains    
into  streams  

Lawn  CulFvaFon  Impacts  

Lawn  CulFvaFon  with  FerFlizers,  
PesFcides,  and  Herbicides  impacts  the  
creek.  
 
 

©  2014  SCWA  

•  EducaFng  the  public  about  healthy  lawn  
culFvaFon  is  key  for  creek  protecFon  

•  The  misuse  of  lawn  products  is  a  big  
concern  in  the  watershed.  
•  Stormwater  flows  the  products  into  
the  creek.  

©  2014  SCWA  

Environmental  Laws  and  Ordinances  
 

CiFzens  ask  –  How  do  we:  
IdenFfy  exisFng  laws  that  protect  
the  creek?                                      
 
Ensure  Compliance.
   
Advocate  for  new    ordinances,    
and  ciFzen  monitoring?  
 
Become  more  watchful,  and  work  
with  laws  in  defense  of  the  creek?  

SIGN:  “  No  Riding  in  Wetland  Area”  
 
 

Motor  bikes  have  heavily  
damaged  the  wetland  habitat  that  
is  pictured  above  
©  2014  SCWA  

RESPONDING TO THE IMPACTS
through

Building Community, Science and
Government Partnerships

©  2014  SCWA  

Partnership:  
Government  AcFon  
 

•  Riverkeeper  responds  to  sewage  
contaminaFon  in  the  Hudson  and  tributaries  
and  iniFates  the  Sewage  Right  to  Know  Bill.  
•  Sparkill  Creek  Watershed  Alliance  takes  
supporFng  acFon  and  directs  Rockland  
elected’s  to  write  lehers  of  support.  
•  The  Sewage  Right  to  Know  bill  is  passed.  

Partnership  with  Wastewater  Facility  

•  CiFzens  tour  the  Orangetown  
wastewater  treatment  plant  to  learn  
of  the  goals  and  limitaFons  of  the  
plant  operaFons.  
 
•  Open  dialogue  begins  with  plant  staff  
about  the  presence  of  enterococcus  
in  the  creek  and  strategies  for  
troubleshooFng.  
•  Data  sharing  begins  

 

Green  Infrastructure  InstallaQon    
PlanFngs  along  the  creek  help  slow  
down  storm  water,  stabilize  the  banks,  
and  prevent  contaminants  from  
reaching  the  creek.    

PlanFng  2013,  a  project  with  DEC  
Trees  for  Tribs  

Conceptual  Plan  for  the  Industrial  Corridor  

Green  Infrastructure  Tour  
 
In  Partnership  with  
Orangetown  Supervisior  

Sites  
 

St.  Thomas  Aquinas  College      
Catchment  for  Capturing  Storm  
Water  
 

Piermont  Library    
Rain  Garden  
©  2014  SCWA  

 

Green  Infrastructure  Tour  

Rain  Barrels  

New  Drainage  Cisterns  

 Orangetown  Highway  Department  

©  2014  SCWA  

GOVERNMENT  TRAININGS  –  CITIZEN  SCIENCE  
 

CiFzens  with  
DEC  estuary  
educaFon  
leader  –  
Installing  Fyke  
net  for  
American  Eel  
MigraFon  
Monitoring  
study  

                   NYS  Department  of  Environmental  
ConservaFon    Provides  Training  for:  
•  Water  Quality  Monitoring      
•  Stream  Assessment  
•  Eel  MigraFon  Monitoring  
•  Trees  for  Tribs  

EPA  Provides  Training  for:  
 
•   Enterococcus  Monitoring  

Piermont  Marsh    

Currently  there  is  no  ciQzen  science  program.    
 
What  can  CiQzen,  Science  and  Government  
Partnerships  do  to  support  the  life  of  the  
Piermont  Marsh  ?  

www.sparkillcreek.org  
SparkillCreekWatershedAlliance@gmail.com  

 
 
 
Useful  Links  and  Contacts:  
 
 
 

hhp://rocklandgov.com/departments/environmental-­‐resources/  
protecFng-­‐our-­‐streams-­‐and-­‐waterways/  
 
   
SparkillCreekWatershedAlliance@gmail.com  
 
 
   
 
SparkillCreek.org