Our final week of Source to Estuary finally gave us the chance to answer the question “How’s the water?” in a visceral way. We took a trip south down the estuary from Troy to the town of Kingston, to go swimming! Why drive over an hour to swim in the Hudson River? Well, it turns out that Kingston Point Beach is actually the closest public swimming beach on the Hudson. Riverkeeper’s water quality testing program gives it a consistently good rating for swimming, unlike many of the river access points around Troy.
Kingston is also home to Riverkeeper’s water quality testing lab, where Riverkeeper community scientist and Water Justice Lab mentor Sebastian Pillitteri works when he’s not up in Troy at NATURE lab. We got a tour of the lab from Sebastian, which also involved winding our way through the Hudson River Maritime Museum (something we’ll need to return to!), and admiring the Hudson Sloop Clearwater out of the windows of the lab, which overlook Rondout Creek.
After our time at the lab, we headed for the beach, where the sand was soft (except for the water chestnut seed pods!) and the water was the perfect temperature. After learning so much about the estuary and the justice issues that impact it around Troy–from combined sewage overflow to PCB contamination–it was surreal to float in its waters, and watch others do the same, from kids of all ages to seagulls and cormorants. As we continue our water testing program into the fall, we’ll be reflecting on what it will take to get the waters around Troy to this level of health.