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Watershed Management

What is watershed management?

A watershed is the area of land from which water drains into a stream, river, lake or other waterbody. Watersheds can be large or small, and larger watersheds are made up of many smaller watersheds. For example, the Hudson River Estuary watershed includes the watersheds of many smaller streams that flow into it (called tributaries). Get a better understanding of the streams, biodiversity, and land use of the Hudson River Estuary watershed through the Hudson Valley Natural Resource Mapper.

There is a strong relationship between land use and water quality in streams, wetlands, and waterbodies. Land and water are connected through the interactions of water, soil, organisms, and chemical components. Healthy watersheds, including both land and water resources, can recharge groundwater, reduce erosion and flooding impacts, minimize public infrastructure and water treatment costs, and be more resilient to climate change—all ecosystem services that directly benefit communities and cost less than the alternatives.

Both small and large tributaries flow into the Estuary, providing freshwater, essential nutrients, as well as pollutants.  Because of the obvious connection between the tributaries, their watersheds, and the Estuary, the Estuary Program includes a watershed approach in the overall research, management and protection of the Estuary.  Through the watershed planning process, community leaders, watershed advocates, scientists and local governments work together to develop watershed conservation strategies. This process facilitates communication and partnerships among local stakeholders to document current watershed conditions and accomplish projects. Watershed-based planning is a foundation of the Hudson River Estuary Program's watershed initiative. It focuses on protecting healthy streams before they become degraded, while also striving to improve water quality in impacted streams.

What are the threats to Hudson River?

Water quality is not what it was when the Half Moon sailed up the river 400 years ago, but it has improved over the lifetimes of Hudson Valley residents born 40 years ago. The Pure Waters Bond Act passed by New York State voters in 1965 and the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 were milestones in cleaning up a river that in many places was little more than an open sewer. Since then, the Hudson has become a regional asset - its waters attractive to boaters, anglers, and swimmers as well as to fish, birds, and wildlife. In spite of these successes, threats and problems remain.

For more information visit: How is the Hudson Doing?

Watershed Management Projects

  • Watershed Planning
  • Riparian Buffers (Streamside) and Floodplains (Beth Roessler)
  • Aquatic Connectivity and Barrier Removal (Culvert & Dams) (Brian Buchanan & Megan Lung)
  • Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management
  • Wastewater and Drinking Water
  • Watershed Program Manager (Scott Cuppett)
  • Watershed Specialist