Hudson 7 urges Governor Hochul to keep Clean Water Infrastructure and Hudson River funding from Executive Budget for New York State
In a letter to Governor Hochul, the Hudson 7 requests that the governor not cut Clean Water Infrastructure and Hudson River funding, and instead commit at least $600 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act in the SFY 2024-25 budget
"The Executive Budget for New York State contains worrying cuts to environmental funding and environmental law enforcement that the Hudson River and its communities depend on," said Mayor Gary Bassett (Village of Rhinebeck), the chair of the Hudson 7 wrote. "These cuts mean fewer investments in replacing aging water pipes and wastewater treatment plants, a diminished ability to address harmful algal blooms that deplete oxygen in the water and kill fish, fewer communities accessing grants for drinking water protection projects, a reduction in hands-on classroom programs through the Hudson River Estuary Program, and fewer funds to enforce our environmental laws on the ground."
"We believe that strengthening our seven communities and preparing them for the future happens from the ground up, beginning with the infrastructure - underground and often unseen in our day-to-day lives - that conveys clean water to our taps and takes wastewater away from our houses. In our communities, like much of the state, water infrastructure is old and outdated" he wrote. "We support our allies request for a commitment to at least a $600 million investment in the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and oppose any funding raids or cuts to the EPF, Hudson River Estuary Program, and our environmental law enforcement and urge you to keep these key sources of funding to remain in the state budget without any offloads from the previous year."
The public is encouraged to take action out ahead of the budget negotiations that will unfold between the Governor, Assembly and Senate, leading up to a final budget on April 1st. Visit Riverkeeper to learn how.
The Hudson 7 celebrated its five-year anniversary in 2023. Here are some of the council's highlights from the year. If you have any questions about our work, please contact us at: hudson7info (at) gmail.com
Signs of a Paradigm Shift
There is increasing evidence that the Hudson 7’s formation and ongoing work has created a paradigm shift in awareness about the Hudson River as a source of drinking water. To cite one example, prior to the formation of the Hudson 7, a cleanup plan for manufactured gas coal tar in Poughkeepsie was developed in close proximity to Poughkeepsie’s water intake, with limited consideration of the potential to disturb contaminants that might impact drinking water. In 2023, in contrast, the DEC directed the entity responsible for a similar cleanup in Hudson, NY - 20-plus miles from the nearest intake – to consult with the Hudson 7 on its cleanup plan in its early stages of development.
The Hudson 7 hires Source Water Protection Coordinator
After many years of planning, the Hudson 7 hired its first Source Water Protection Coordinator in July. The position, funded by annual contributions from Hudson 7 municipalities and counties, was filled by Rebecca Martin, who serves part time as a consultant. Martin is a founding member of the Hudson 7, providing coordination for the group through her former position at Riverkeeper since 2017. She has more than 20 years of experience building effective campaigns and projects through coalition-building and collaborative strategies with targeted communications.
Salt Front Advancement in the Hudson River due to Climate Change receives $500,000 funding for study by NYSDEC
In February, 2022, Hudson 7 Technical Advisor Paul Malmrose introduced a problem that had been of interest to the scientific community but hadn’t been a priority for the state: the Salt Front Advancement in the Hudson River Due to Climate Change and Action Plan to Prevent Salt from Entering the Drinking Water. While the concentration of salt always fluctuates in the Hudson, a tidal estuary, it is well-established that sea-level rise will increase the concentration of salt farther north more frequently. It remains unknown, however, how quickly or significantly this change will be, and how it might affect the river at Hudson 7 intakes. His presentation and coordination of partners helped the council and the state to recognize the gap of knowledge and led to the NYSDEC announcing $500,000 in funding for a Hudson River Salt Front Study in partnership with U.S. Geological Survey, a first critical step to approach the issue.
United States Coast Guard (USCG) Temporarily Pauses Anchorage Plan
One of the core concerns of the Hudson 7 has always been the risk of spill of hazardous materials from rail, barge and tanker shipping on and along the Hudson. When the Coast Guard announced changes that would allow more vessels to anchor in the Hudson, including in the vicinity of Hudson 7 intakes, the Hudson 7 worked with Riverkeeper to convene Coast Guard officials and communicate concerns. The Coast Guard is now reconsidering its proposal, and the Hudson 7 and the public will have the opportunity to influence its decision.
Hudson River PCB Superfund Site
With General Electric Co. investigating potential PCBs hotspots in the 150-mile Hudson River Estuary, and environmental groups pressuring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to commit to additional remedial measures to reduce contamination in fish, the Hudson 7 was invited to join an expanded Community Advisory Group, giving it access to information and a voice in decisions going forward. Due to their chemical nature, PCBs are primarily a concern for fish, rather than drinking water, because fish accumulate higher levels of contamination and can deliver a significant dose to those who eat them.
Hudson 7 receives “Building Bridges Award”
In December, the Hudson 7 received the “Building Bridges Award” from the Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC). The event honored Mid-Hudson municipalities for their achievements in economic development, water quality planning, and clean energy and climate smart actions. The Hudson 7 is also frequently cited as an example of intermunicipal cooperation on drinking water source protection.
Hudson 7 Source Water Protection Plan
The Hudson 7 has completed substantial portions of a first-ever draft Drinking Water Source Protection Plan for the Hudson River. A landmark effort, the plan will define various potential threats and management recommendations to reduce and eliminate threats, including building on the extensive collaborative networks that the Hudson 7 has already built with agencies at the state and federal levels, as well as actions that municipalities can take at the local level. Department of Health advisors Grant Jiang and Mike Forgeng’s technical assistance have been critical in supporting the Hudson 7.
For more on the Hudson 7's past accomplishments:
2022: Watershed WaveMaker: Paul Malmrose￼
2020: Coal Tar and Crude Oil: Milestones in protecting the Hudson River drinking water source
2019: Seven signs of progress for the Hudson 7
2018: Hudson 7 form pioneering river protection council
2018: Hudson 7 sign agreement to protect Hudson River drinking water supply