Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Hudson River and its tributaries, and safeguarding the drinking water of millions of New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally-recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Waterkeeper programs around the world.
Riverkeeper, Inc. is a member-supported not-for-profit environmental organization whose mission is to protect the ecological, commercial and recreational integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and to safeguard the upstate watersheds that supply drinking water to more than nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.
In 1966, the Hudson River was dying from pollution and neglect. Run-down factories choked it with hazardous waste, poisoning fish, threatening drinking water supplies, and ruining world-class havens for boating and swimming. Sadly, America's Ã¢â‚¬Å“First RiverÃ¢â‚¬ had become little more than an industrial sewer.
At that time, the Hudson River fishermen decided they had enough. Because their catch reeked from oil spilled daily into the river, they banded together to use a decades-old federal law to turn the tide from ruin to recovery.
This was the founding of the Hudson River Fishermen's Association, which became Riverkeeper in1983 when we hired John Cronin, our first boat captain, as the Riverkeeper. Since that time we have achieved significant victories for the Hudson that include:
Watershed Memorandum of Agreement signed 1997
Settlement between Exxon and New York State for a massive oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn 2010
Ban on fracking in NY 2014
Agreement to close Indian Point 2017
Halting long-term anchorages on the Hudson 2017
Today, Riverkeeper continues its fight to protect the Hudson River, seeking out polluters and teaming with community scientists and activists to reclaim the Hudson River. And, we also work to ensure that millions of New Yorkers have clean, safe drinking water. Today, pollution levels are down, and swimming and boating are back.
But the Hudson's recovery is still fragile, still incomplete. Some fish species have not recovered, and many remain too toxic to eat; pollution levels spike with every rainfall. Mammoth cuts in government spending threaten to reverse a half-century of water quality gains, and we face the challenges of antiquated power plants, climate change, and emerging, harmful pollutants.
We are committed to protecting and restoring the Hudson River and its tributaries with a legal program to enforce clean water protections; a monthly boat patrol and watchdog program along the length of the navigable river to guard against polluters; a water quality program to monitor water safety; habitat restoration and dam removal programs to restore the river; and partnerships with hundreds of community organizations and local groups along the shorelines.
Riverkeeper's impact can be measured by the $3.4 billion that New York State has invested in improved water infrastructure - resulting from our publication of water quality testing; by the number of legal cases we have brought and won against polluters; by the number of dams we bring down and the miles of stream habitats opened up for fish, and by the 30+ tons of trash we collect with thousands of volunteers each year to keep the river clean, and by the thousands of actions taken by Riverkeeper members to defend the river every day.
Goals this year
In 2020, our goals are to:
Collect and test 5,500 water quality samples from the Hudson River and its tributaries to improve water quality
Conduct monthly boat patrols along the length of the navigable river to defend the Hudson from polluters
Bring down three dams in Westchester and Ulster counties to restore stream habitat
Ensure that the Indian Point nuclear plant closes safely and promptly
Expand the Riverkeeper Sweep to 125 sites and 2,700 volunteers on May 2, removing 35 tons of trash from the River
Paul and the Riverkeeper team work to protect the Hudson River and the drinking water supplies for nine million New Yorkers. An attorney and educator, Paul has dedicated himself to the environmental movement since 1987, when he left the private practice of law and went to work for the New York State Attorney General. In 1990, Paul began a ten-year stint at New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, where he brought hundreds of corporate and government polluters to justice. Paul subsequently spent a decade in the land conservation movement before becoming Riverkeeper's President in 2010. Paul is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia Law School and has held a number of teaching positions, including his current appointment with the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Ernest Tollerson, Chair Former Trustee, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Kate Sinding, Vice Chair Executive Director, Dan and Sheryl Tishman Family Foundation
Jonathan Spanier, Treasurer President, Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Foundation
Nicholas Groombridge, Secretary Partner, Paul, Weiss
Paul Gallay, President and 2010 Present
Lisa Benenson Vice President for Communications and Strategy, Brennan Center for Justice
Carolyn Marks Blackwood Screenwriter, producer and principal partner at Magnolia Mae Films; fine art photographer
Katharine Butler Trustee, Donald C. Brace Foundation
Maria Castaneda Vice President and Secretary Treasurer, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Christine Churchill Attorney
Karenna Gore Director, The Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary
Martin Hampel Private Investor and Photographer
Alexandra Herzan President and Treasurer, Lily Auchincloss Foundation
Ellen Kozak Artist
Dale Kutnick Senior Vice President and Global Head, Gartner Executive
Thomas Lewis President, Louis Berger, U.S.
Steve Liesman Financial Analyst, CNBC
Timon Malloy President, Fred F. French Companies
Emmanuel Morlet Trustee, Westcustogo Foundation
Toby Smith President, Ironshore Environmental
Leslie Williams Attorney, co-proprietor, Winston's restaurant
Paul Zofnass President, The Environmental Financial Consulting Group, Inc.