For more than fifty years I have been making imitations of
many of the insects, minnows and other forms of life that fish
feed on in fresh and salt water. It is a singular thrill to
catch a fish on an hand-made imitation of life!
Long ago I realized that success in getting the fish to bite
depended upon the similarity between what the fish were eating
at that time and the appearance of the insect or minnow imitation
that I was using as a lure. So, before the first cast I always
do a bit of snooping at water’s edge: lifting stones and screening
bottom muds to find out what insect species are present, who
hatched out last night and what’s happening now.
Without exception, the activities of all inhabitants of aquatic
environments are driven by seasonal rhythms. For example, during
late May and early June on most “healthy waterways” that contain
fish in our region I would expect to find the nymphs (and perhaps
some adults flying over the waterway) of the mayfly species
Stenonema and Isonychia.
Usually, in order to support many types of aquatic insects,
particularly mayflies and caddis flies, a “healthy” waterway
must seasonally sustain certain physical and chemical characteristics.
Like the miner’s canary, the presence and condition of some
aquatic species can provide a sensitive indication of the overall
environmental quality of a waterway and its drainage basin.
In the eastern and central states, during late May and early
June on most “fishy” waterways, I use the presence of a combination
of such environmental “canaries” — the free swimming mayfly
nymph Isonychia (bicolor?), the clinging mayfly nymph Stenonema
(fuscum?) and several species of caddisflies — to evaluate the
general environmental quality of waterways.
Last spring I did a informal sampling of various spots in the
Black Creek drainage. With some effort and persistence, I found
my “canaries” upstream of the Black Creek Marsh but not downstream
of the Northeastern Industrial Park (NEIP) and the existing
Guilderland bus garage.
When the Schenectady Army Depot, Voorheesvile Area was built,
the original Black Creek was relocated and bifurcated by the
Army so as to completely enclose the Depot. Some 550 acres of
the Former Schenectady Army Depot, Voorheesville Area (FSADVA)
are now occupied by the NEIP. Why is the water that leaves the
Bus Garage and the NEIP different than that which flows into
Black Creek Marsh upstream? Is the water that passes through
the NEIP and the bus garage “healthy?”
I’ll let you decide. Available for public review in the Guilderland
Public Library (and on the Internet) are several federal USACE
documents that describe the chemistry of samples of the water
and stream sediment taken from the Black Creek at various locations
within the NEIP. These analyses were conducted by professional
laboratories using state-of-the-art equipment and best available
technology (BAT). This is a public record for all to examine.
These contaminants are leaching from federal Areas of Concern
(AOC) that are located, as the maps in the public documents
show, within the NEIP portion of the FSADVA.
According to those public records, some of the chemical substances
found in the water that leaves the NEIP, passes alongside the
Guilderland bus garage (collecting its runoff) and then gradually
flows into the Town’s drinking water supply include:
1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane, 1,2-Dichlorobenzene, 1,2-Dichloroethane,
1,3-Dichloropropane, 4,4’DDE, 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, 4-Methyl-2-Pentanone,
Acetone, Arsenic, Carbon Disulfide, Chloroform, Chlorodibromomethane,
Trichloroethene, Methylene Chloride Tetrachloroethene, Toluene,
The substances listed above that are now found in Black Creek
are related to federal activities that took place in proximity
to that waterway during the last 50 years. These substances
are intrusive, contaminating and unnatural. They do not belong
in a “healthy” waterway!
Now some engineer (who probably doesn’t drink Guilderland=s
water) might say that all of those substances are in the environment
anyway so why worry. Or the Federal Environmental Protection
Agency or the states’s Department of Environmental Conservation
or some other agency might say that the amounts are so small
that they are not a problem: “Well within standards.” Or it
might be said that there is no evidence yet that such substances
can have a deleterious effect on mammals or their DNA. etc.
etc. etc. . .
We care: the ten local-community volunteer members of the FSADVA
federal Restoration Advisory Board (RAB).
It’s surprising to us that the community fails to recognize
the importance of relocating the Guilderland bus garage; it
is obviously contributing its own batch of polluting substances
to the Black Creek and your water supply - it should be moved.
A comprehensive review of the proposal to build a new bus garage
at the present site leads us to expect that the environmental
safeguards that will be required by various regulatory agencies
will add significantly to the operational cost of the facility.
Furthermore, some of the technology that the School District
expects to use to protect the Creek from contamination had yet
to be designed! “Let‘s get it done and get back to the soccer
It seems like no one cares? If arguments for an equitable and
environmentally-sensitive solution to the Bus Garage problem
are being ignored just because of financial considerations then
shame on us all!
Some of the RAB members have suggested that we are trying to
push a large snowball uphill against the combined weight of:
(1) a bunch of narrowly-focused, environmentally-insensitive
administrators and politicians; (2) an educational institution
that “talks the talk of environment and ecology” but when it
really gets down to fighting for clean water “walks the expedient
walk” away from controversy; and, (3) a community that appears
to be disinterested in protecting and enhancing the quality
of the water that most of their families drink.
Taken together it would seem that you have a lot of people
who wish that the RAB, and all those contaminating hydrocarbons
in Black Creek, would just evaporate.
Where are Guilderland High’s future Rachel Carsons, Eugene
Odums and Anne Ehrlichs when we need them?
I love fly fishing!
Printed in the June 2001 Dinner Notice