by DINA CAPPIELLO, Staff writer
A $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
announced on Monday will place Patroon Creek under 24-hour scientific
surveillance, supplying researchers, residents and students
with essential information about the stream's health.
This data ``will help identify pollutants that may pose a
hazard to our citizens,'' said Mayor Jerry Jennings. The city
applied for the grant on behalf of nine environmental, educational
and government organizations. ``With this grant, we hope to
begin the process of renewal,'' he said.
The money will pay for gauges and computers to track up-to-the-minute
changes in the water and air surrounding Patroon Creek, which
runs from Rensselaer Lake in the Pine Bush Preserve through
some of the most industrialized areas of the city on its way
to the Hudson River.
Kiosks will be built in the Tivoli Preserve in order for the
public to access the information, which will be collected by
groups splitting the grant.
Environmentalists, seeking to have the stream upgraded to a
cleaner classification and to prevent further discharges into
its waters, said on Monday that such ``real-time'' data will
help catch polluters and provide valuable evidence for Patroon
``We are building the capacity to protect the watershed,''
said Aaron Mair of the W. Haywood Burns Environmental Educational
Center, the lead organization for the program. ``It all comes
down to monitoring.''
Until now, the creek was monitored by a number of different
entities. Many of the resulting studies looked at the organisms
living in the stream as a measure of its health.
``You have a number of jurisdictions collecting data, but nobody
is coming together and building the whole picture. That picture
is the health of the creek,'' said Mair.
Since 1993, Patroon Creek has rebounded from being one of the
state's most polluted streams. But there still are stretches
where the sediment is laced with heavy metals, and surprises
like the city water task force's discovery two years ago that
some businesses near Everett Road were dumping raw sewage into
The EPA's grant program -- Environmental Monitoring for Public
Access and Community Tracking -- was created in 1996 to help
communities collect, manage and present environmental information
to their residents.