The ACWQCC has sponsored several educational and training programs and pollution prevention projects. These efforts seek to increase the awareness of water quality issues and to emphasize the importance of good water quality for the residents and decision-makers of Albany County.
Basic Creek Watershed Project
The Committee’s first project, in 1993, involved the Basic Creek Reservoir, which is the back-up water supply for the City of Albany. This reservoir had been identified as a high priority in the ACWQCC’s Water Quality Strategy after sampling indicated that sediment and nutrient loading were affecting the water quality.
The project incorporated the ongoing efforts of several member agencies to provide a comprehensive watershed approach to identifying and addressing nonpoint source pollution in this watershed. A survey conducted during two consecutive summers gathered information about land use and potential sources of nonpoint source pollution and assessed the residents’ level of awareness and concern about water quality issues. In addition, basic site assessments were made to look for pollutants such as failing septic systems, surface wastewater discharge and improperly stored chemicals and animal waste.
The educational component of the project included:
- Distribution of in-home assessment kits to evaluate septic systems
- Posting of road signs identifying watershed boundaries
- Publication of the “Westerlo Water News”, a newsletter aimed at educating residents on various water quality issues
- Educational workshops on septic system maintenance and well head protection
- A watershed tour for elected officials and residents
- A household hazardous waste collection day
This project resulted in the identification of several sources of nonpoint source pollution affecting the Reservoir, raised community awareness about the watershed and NPS pollution, educated residents about proper septic system and drinking water protection, and established baseline data for the Reservoir.
Patroon Creek Watershed
The Patroon Creek is an urban watercourse that is a tributary to the Hudson River. Due to land uses in this watershed, the water quality is greatly impacted by stormwater runoff, making the creek a high priority on the Committee’s list. The projects that the Committee sponsored on Patroon Creek included a combination of education, pollution prevention, and clean up along the Creek. The project on the creek was coordinated by W. Haywood Burns Environmental Education Center and included clean-up of litter on the stream banks and the removal of refuse and debris from a site at the edge of Tivoli Preserve.
The Albany Pool Communities are engaged in an annual water quality monitoring program in for the Hudson River Estuary between the Federal Dam at Troy and the Port of Albany. Many of the tributaries to the Hudson are sampled as part of this program, including the Patroon Creek. The sampling program runs weekly on Wednesdays from May-October and will take place in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2022, and 2027 to measure the impact of the CSO LTCP and determine the impact of the tributaries on water quality in the Hudson. Report data on the sampling program will be available in March following each sampling season.
Onesquethaw-Coeymans Stream Monitoring
The Onesquethaw-Coeymans Creek is an important natural resource in the county. It supports a diversity of plants and animals and provides critical trout spawning habitat. A grant-funded project on the creek, started in the fall of 1998, provided a unique opportunity for students to learn about NPS pollution, water quality indicators, and stream monitoring. Students from local schools who participated in this monitoring project conducted chemical tests on the stream water, identified macro-invertabrates, and learned how to use the data they collected to assess water quality. At the end of the project, the students presented their findings to the town boards in the watersheds and the ACWQCC.
In addition, the grant also provided for the purchase of 6 temperature loggers to provide for ongoing monitoring and a groundwater model to demonstrate the effects of nonpoint source pollution on groundwater.
The hard work and dedication of Nancy Heinzen, who lead this project, has resulted in a model for teaching about water quality and stream sampling. Working with local schools and students helped raise community awareness about the importance of watershed management and preventing NPS pollution.
Education about nonpoint source pollution (NPS) is a top priority for the committee because understanding NPS is a crucial step in identifying pollution sources and reducing or eliminating them. The committee has an ongoing commitment to putting knowledge about NPS pollution and water quality issues in the hands of children, educators, and local decision-makers.
A mini-grant awarded to the committee in 1997 provided funds to purchase 10 groundwater models. These models, which demonstrate how water moves through the ground, were distributed to schools throughout the county. A day long training session was offered to demonstrate how to use the models to show how NPS pollution can affect groundwater. The model is also used periodically by the committee for special events and training sessions.
In the past, the Committee participated in the DEC’s annual Water Week Celebration. The committee sponsored transportation for fourth and fifth graders from Albany City schools and arranged for tours of the Alcove reservoir and water treatment plant to see the path their water follows from source to faucet. The committee has also participated in Water Week activities at the Five Rivers Environmental Center, teaching children about watershed dynamics and giving them a hands-on opportunity to collect and identify macro-invertebrates and learn about their importance as an indicator of water quality.
More recently Soil and Water Conservation District and Cornell Cooperative Extension have developed environmental education programs for local school groups at Albany’s City-owned farm on the banks of the Normans kill.
The committee’s education efforts also extend to the community and to local decision makers. We periodically sponsor seminars on relevant topics such as septic system maintenance, well head protection, environmental regulations, and NPS pollution prevention as well as presenting activity reports to the County Legislature. In addition, the Committee sponsors a table at the Altamont Fair to provide the public with information on water quality issues.
CSO Long Term Control Plan Advisory Committee
The Committee participated in the CSO Long Term Control Plan Advisory Committee to provide feedback on development and implementation of an inter-municipal plan to reduce and eliminate overflows from combined storm and sanitary sewers discharging into the Hudson River Estuary. The committee was instrumental in helping to shape the plan, which is currently in the implementation phase.
Albany Pool Communities Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Discharge Notification System
The Albany Pool Communities have jointly developed the CSO Discharge Notification System, a web-based public notification service that provides easy access to the potential for CSO activity in the Capital region. This website provides the public with information about the likelihood of CSO discharges into the Hudson River and its tributaries within the Albany Pool Communities program area. This notification complies with the intent of New York State’s Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act and the LTCP developed by the Albany Pool Communities and the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC).
Mohawk Watershed Plan Advisory Committee (WAC)
The Committee was a member of the WAC which was established to facilitate communication and cooperation among local governments, county and state agencies, and others essential to the preparation of the Mohawk Watershed Plan. It included representatives of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. The WAC assisted in developing a vision watershed plan, worked with the chosen consultant to develop the Mohawk River Watershed Web mapping Aapplication, and helped review and develop the Mohawk River Watershed Plan.
Albany County Water Quality Coordinating Committee(518) 765-7923
P.O. Box 497
24 Martin Rd.
Voorheesville, NY 12186