Swamp River

 Health Checkup for the Swamp River

JANUARY 2011

Two independent studies have been completed in Pawling and Dover's Swamp River watershed, a magnificent ecosystem which is threatened by development. This project is made possible through generous financial support from the Iroquois Gas Transmission System and HVA members.

The results suggest that the water quality of the Swamp River is comparable to other rivers in the region with similar land use conditions. These water bodies show some signs of impairments, but overall they remain relatively high in quality.

The river, which flows north out of the Great Swamp to its confluence with the Tenmile River in Pawling, provides flood control for the region and critical habitat for wildlife and recharges the underlying aquifer of the Great Swamp. This aquifer supplies drinking water to 40,000 watershed residents; by 2040 it is projected that 88,000 people will depend on it. 

One of the studies was done by HVA and one by FrOGS.

We sampled four times at five locations along the main stem of the Swamp River. Based upon the data we collected, water quality does seem to improve slightly as you move further away from headwaters in Pawling and towards the outflow in the Tenmile River. This is expected since the headwaters are the most developed region of the watershed. Moving away from this urbanization, the impacts are diluted by the relatively undeveloped downstream areas.

The second study was done by Watershed Assessment Associates who received funding from FrOGS to collect aquatic insect (macroinvertebrates) samples at seven sites. One hundred collected specimens were counted and sorted. Some species are less tolerant of pollution and some are more tolerant.

Water chemistries and temperature were taken at each site to test for dissolved oxygen alkalinity and conductivity, which are indicators of water quality. Also noted were streambed and stream bank conditions, land use and amount of vegetation.

Data collected will help municipal officials, property owners, developers and other stakeholders make environmentally sound land-use decisions that can help maintain the health of the river. 

Results of this study will provide valuable information for the development of a Watershed Management Plan for the river.

For more information, or to get involved, contact HVA’s New York Watershed Manager
Tonia Shoumatoff at 845-879-1381 or email her at toniahva@hotmail.com.