State Water Resources Research Institute Program


Project ID: 2007NY97B
Title: Partnering scientists, policymakers and the public torward the creation of a management plan for the Casperkill Watershed, Dutchess County, New York
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/28/2008
Congressional District: 19 & 20
Focus Categories: Surface Water, Non Point Pollution, Management and Planning
Keywords: water quality, riparian buffers, non-point pollution, land use planning,
Principal Investigator: Menking, Kirsten
Federal Funds: $ 0
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 25,927
Abstract: The Casperkill is a tributary of the Hudson River that flows through the Town of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County, NY. The stream is featured in the municipalitys draft master plan, where it is recognized as a natural, aesthetic, and recreational resource. However, the health of the creek, and therefore of the greater Hudson River Estuary, is challenged by existing and proposed development that impairs the riparian buffer, contributes non-point-source pollution, and leads to flooding and sewage overflows into the backyards of homeowners. Though the draft master plan calls for the protection and restoration of the creek along its entire length, the Casperkill appears to have few official advocates. The Casperkill watershed has endured significant development over the past fifty years without the benefit of a Watershed Management Plan, a Watershed Committee, or even a Natural Resource Inventory. Concern for the creek led students and faculty at Vassar College to begin characterizing its health in the spring of 2006, measuring water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, nutrient levels, and bacterial loads. Preliminary results were presented at a forum in September for community residents who responded by sharing their own concerns about pollution, flooding, and loss of biodiversity. These residents, along with the town board and the Vassar College community, among others, make up a natural constituency for the creation of a Casperkill watershed protection group that could help guide future development, implement stream cleanups and riparian zone restoration projects, and monitor water quality. With this proposal we intend to move toward better land use planning and environmental quality in the Casperkill by improving collaboration between community members, planners, and scientists in managing our common resource. The scientific and policy information generated by Vassar, combined with the citizen involvement cultivated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County, will provide the municipal councils of the City and Town of Poughkeepsie with the knowledge and support they need to make important environmental decisions in the future.

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