THE STATE OF OUR WATERSHED
Our watershed, the land through which our drinking water flows to arrive at our tap, is part of the beautiful landscape of the Hudson Valley. It is known as the Quassaick Creek Watershed. Unfortunately, over many decades, this land has been over developed and steadily polluted with PFAS and other toxic chemicals to an extent that threatens its ecological functioning and use as a drinking water source. Temporarily, our drinking water source fluctuates between the Catskill Aqueduct, (part of NYC's water supply), and Brown's Pond, our back-up reservoir. Brown's Pond is actually part of the Moodna Creek watershed, which is overseen by the Moodna Creek Watershed Intermunicipal Council.
Our main reservoir—Washington Lake—and the streams that feed it are entirely out of our city limits and legal jurisdiction.
We are advocating for laws that protect ours, and ALL drinking water sources, from being degraded by Home Rule real estate development decisions. We also advocate for a well-protected and fully restored watershed that will provide our community once again with access to clean drinking water, greater health, recreation areas, and long-term economic viability.
WATERSHED CONSERVATION & MANAGEMENT PLANS
The Quassaick Creek watershed is an important tributary of the Hudson River. According to the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance:
"It covers portions of five municipalities in two counties: the headwaters of the Creek in rural Ulster County feed the main Quassaick Creek channel that meanders through the Town of Newburgh before forming the border between the City of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor. The Quassaick Creek enters the Hudson River just south of the popular waterfront area in the City of Newburgh. There are many important waterbodies that reside within this watershed including Chadwick Lake, Orange Lake, Washington Lake, Gidneytown Creek, and Bushfield Creek."
A coalition of local and regional nonprofit organizations have been on the forefront of watershed protection and restoration for the City of Newburgh. Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance (QCWA), Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson,and Clearwater have been particularly staunch advocates, alerting city and state officials about potential threats, educating the public, and now—as the crisis is unfolding—helping to mitigate and plan for a better future. Newburgh Clean Water Project is proud to join their efforts. Get to know the City of Newburgh's watershed! It's our gateway to clean water, community health and the city's economic vitality. Join us on Facebook to find out about tours, hands-on restoration projects, and other community events.
QCWA Meetings are open to the public and held on the last Monday of each month @ 5:00 PM, Mount St Mary's College, Aquinas Hall, Room 252. Find more information here.
SOURCE WATER PROTECTION
In light of the PFAS contamination of the City of Newburgh's drinking water, Riverkeeper, (NY's clean water advocate), published a case study in 2016, calling for the comprehensive protection of our source water.
"The long-term protection of drinking water quality requires a long-term commitment to protecting source waters – rivers, streams, reservoirs and groundwater. Protection of water supplies has wide public support, and can be typically achieved at a cost far less than the cost of remediation of contaminated supplies. In Newburgh, water protection laws have not been effectively enforced or implemented, and the lands and waters that supply Lake Washington and Brown’s Pond in the Quassaick and Moodna Creek watersheds have not been adequately protected. The present contamination is the result. This document demonstrates that New York State has a comprehensive legal framework for protecting source waters, but its implementation is both incomplete and uncoordinated. While additional legal authorities may be needed, there are many tools available now that should be utilized immediately to protect and restore source waters, even while emergency response measures are in effect."
RECLAIMING NEWBURGH'S OTHER WATER FRONT
Peter Smith of the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance has created a planning primer for the Quassaick Creek Corridor outlining development opportunities and challenges: