Saturday, March 13, 2010


Sensationalized headlines speaking of impacted and impaired water start off this report on a meeting I attended at 5-Rivers Nature Center in Delmar, New York on February 25, 2010. Historically, the general water quality of the lower portion of the Normanskill's main stem has been deemed impacted. Which on a 5-point scale of stream quality scores a 4, meaning stream life (fish stock) are able to survive and most species reproduce but on the most sensitive end of the scale aquatic life does not thrive. The urban landscape the Normanskill tributary named the Krumkill flows through produces a stream water quality of much more negative quality like a 2 on a 5-point scale. There is a Federal Code for this: the 303d waterbody list, which is not a good list to be on. Nonpoint source nutient, municipal, and toxic additions are the most likely impacts affecting water quality according to the Watershed Report card. This is not really surprising data but does have importance because of the development pressures the watershed faces. Nancy Heinzen of the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County ( introduced Kelly Nolan of Watershed Assessment Associations ( who conducted bio-montoring testing at a number of spots in our watershed. It was the Hudson River Estuary group that funded the study (Thank You!). For the Normanskill the spots chosen "bracket" the potential run-off pattern of the large to-be-developed Vista Tech Park. They are important measures of undisturbed bio-systems that will predate major construction. On "one long harsh and foolish day" Nolan and his associates visited five sites. Three on smaller unnamed tributaries anf two at actuall Normanskill sites. The difficulty was getting to the sites which were not close to roads or other easy access points. Bio-monitoring is a "tool" that looks at the biological community that is living at a certain measurement site. A set of standards have been developed that attempt to take into account different stream conditions. The situation as it is found is compared to ideal criteria and an assessment of water quality can then be made. One problem is there is no NYS or National criteria developed for assessing small tributaries such as the three tested here. A second problem that I see is the specific nature of a steam such as the Normanskill, the high mud banks and silty water conditions seem difficult to account for in an idealized model. Kelly Nolan was confident the question of local biological system uniqueness was adequately covered despite slitation problems that at times physically change streambed features in the Normanskill. Bio-monitoring is a simple form of testing that is analogous to a doctor's medical health assessment. A dead stream or severely impacted one could be obviously discovered. Chemical testing is expensive and slow and thus not usually a first choice. I'd would like to learn more about chemical testinging as time goes on.