When people talk about the Hudson River and its problems, my mind immediately goes to the GE cleanup of toxic waste around Fort Edward and Hudson Falls.
There are problems closer to home, though. The river, after all, begins atop Mount Marcy. It flows off as Feldspar Brook and turns into the Opalescent River before becoming the Hudson.
All along the 7.5 million acres that drain into the river before it reaches Troy, the part known as the Upper Hudson, are threats to the river and its natural flow. The lingering effects of acid rain that make fish dangerous to eat. Road salt. Eroding stream banks. The habitat disruption caused by even small dams.
For example, the roads along the Upper Schroon River are adding both salt and extra erosion to the river. Just near the boundary of the Adirondack Park, around Broadalbin, Kennyetto Creek is polluted by leaking septic systems.
A new plan looks at all the threats, twists and turns between Marcy and Troy. The report was prepared by the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board and Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition and paid for by the New York Department of State, thanks to a grant to the Town of Horicon. About half the land is preserved, forested or public in some way or another, but not all of the towns along the river and its tributaries have the money to monitor, protect or cleanup the Hudson.
The plan, though, lays out specific projects that can help clean and repair the Upper Hudson as the river winds past seven counties, nearly 100 communities and over 200 lakes and ponds. The 200-page plan lists 190 projects that will cost a combined $300 million.
One big ticket item is $25 million needed for the Villages of Northville and Mayfield to upgrade their wastewater system to eliminate septic systems in the area that are leaking. Generally, federal funding for sewage treatment projects is dwindling, leaving smaller communities left with large expenses and a small pool of taxpayers to foot the bill.
Other projects are far less expensive. For $2,000, the Town of Schroon could replace a culvert that is causing problems. With $12,000, the Town of Chester could study erosion at Loon Lake.
The report also recommends more studying and suggests that some communities consider adopting new regulations to monitor and prevent runoff that can cause problems. It also alludes to the push to remove unnecessary dams, but says many dams around the Upper Hudson are necessary — though those necessary dams need repairs to make them safe for humans and upgrades to make those dams less harmful to fish, like fish ladders.
Having this sort of wish list is the first step in making something happen if towns and villages want to get state money, said Allison Gaddy, the senior planner for the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board.
The report is one of the finer government reports I’ve read and for anyone who cares about this part of the park or the Hudson before it reaches New York Harbor, the plan is worth some attention.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Ry’s Water Line newsletter. Click here to sign up
Photo: Hudson River near Tahawus by Mike Lynch/Adirondack Explorer