Hudson River Watershed Alliance to honor water protectors

HUDSON VALLEY – On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, from 7 to 8 p.m., the Hudson River Watershed Alliance will honor the 2020 Watershed WaveMakers for their work to protect water resources in the Hudson Valley and Hudson River watershed. The event will be held as a livestream to bring together community organizations, government agencies, and the private sector to recognize the accomplishments of this year’s awardees. From the Adirondacks to New York City, those interested in protecting water can tune in for inspirational stories.

Free registration for the livestream event is at

The recipients of this year’s awards are Peter Smith of the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance, the Upper Hudson Watershed Coalition, Albany Water Department, and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. In addition to the WaveMaker awardees, the Hudson River Watershed Alliance will also celebrate the 10th year of its incorporation as a non-profit organization. The livestream will also feature live music from Mike + Ruthy of The Mammals, Hudson Valley-based songwriters who have made waves in the Americana world and beyond.

The Hudson River Watershed Alliance’s mission is to unite and empower communities to protect their local water resources. The Alliance provides the tools, information, and resources that residents need to better manage their water resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance is continuing at full speed to support its community partners. The Alliance has moved its education and capacity-building programs online, which is enabling outreach to even more participants in all corners of the watershed. The Alliance is also serving emerging needs of watershed groups, like helping them host online meetings and educational events.

The Watershed WaveMaker Awards recognize the exemplary efforts of our watershed partners, who are working throughout the year to protect the Hudson Valley’s water resources. 

Peter Smith (Individual WaveMaker), a volunteer with the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance, has been a dogged researcher, educator and advocate devoted to protecting the drinking water supply for 29,000 people in and around the City of Newburgh. He has endeavored to highlight the many threats to drinking water quality, and his insights proved tragically correct, when in 2016 it became widely known that a family of toxic perfluorinated compounds, PFAS, had contaminated the primary drinking water source for the city, Washington Lake. The Hudson River Watershed Alliance recognizes Peter’s substantial work on-the-ground to understand the intricacies of Newburgh’s drinking watershed, incorporate that local knowledge into planning, and bring these issues to the attention of elected and appointed officials at multiple levels of government.

The Upper Hudson Watershed Coalition (Watershed Group WaveMaker) is a network of Soil & Water Conservation Districts from seven counties. They work across the 4,620-square-mile Upper Hudson River watershed, from Lake Tear of the Clouds to the Federal Dam in Troy. Supported by the Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board, the coalition partners with municipalities to develop plans that lead directly to implementation projects, which improve water quality and stream habitat. The latest is the “Upper Hudson River Watershed Revitalization Plan,” completed in 2020, which focuses on natural resource improvements for stormwater, agriculture, invasive species, erosion, water supply and wastewater, and aquatic passage. The Hudson River Watershed Alliance recognizes the coalition’s significant work to guide projects from funding through construction, while keeping planning initiatives straightforward and effective.

The Albany Water Department (Institutional WaveMaker), under the leadership of Water Commissioner Joseph Coffey, works to protect and provide drinking water, manage stormwater, and maintain wastewater infrastructure. A significant accomplishment in 2019 was the daylighting of the Patroon Creek in Albany’s Tivoli Lake Preserve. Decades in the making, this project will improve water quality, improve stream habitat, protect critical infrastructure, reduce the risk of flooding, and improve access to the Patroon Creek within the City of Albany. Albany Water Department has also established an innovative conservation easement and carbon credit program to protect forests in the Alcove and Basic Creek watersheds, the sources of water for 160,000 people in the Capital District, while offsetting carbon emissions. The Hudson River Watershed Alliance recognizes their leadership and innovation in managing water resources, especially while taking a holistic approach. With this award, the Alliance also is putting a spotlight on the essential workers that ensure drinking water is delivered and wastewater is cleaned.

While many are familiar with the work of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (Organization WaveMaker) and its iconic Sloop, few know that Clearwater played a significant role in building capacity to protect and restore the tributaries and landscapes of the Hudson River watershed. Clearwater started and incubated the Hudson River Watershed Alliance for its first few years, created volunteer watershed groups on the Fall Kill in Dutchess County and the Rondout Creek in Ulster County, and has supported important grassroots work in Newburgh and other watersheds. The Hudson River Watershed Alliance is honoring Clearwater for its historic contributions to cleaning up the Hudson River, and its visionary role in building capacity to protect the tributaries to the Hudson, especially as the Alliance celebrates its 10th anniversary of incorporation.

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