Press Release: New York State Awards Save the Sound $400,000 for Hutchinson River Watershed Planning in the Bronx

Larchmont, NY – New York State has granted $400,000 to Save the Sound to develop a watershed management for the Hutchinson River in the Bronx as part of a larger effort to clean up portions of the lower Hutchinson River that flows into Long Island Sound. The funding request was facilitated by Assembly Member Michael Benedetto (AD-82).

The Hutchinson River has long been degraded by dense urban development that has stripped riparian habitat and disconnected natural floodplains and wetlands. Stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces carries polluted stormwater – combined with raw or partially-treated sewage – into the River, causing significant ecological harm and posing risks to human health. All segments of the lower Hutchinson River are listed on the New York State 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies.

“The Hutchinson River, also known as Aquacanounck in the Munsee language, is an important ecological gem that deserves thoughtful restoration after decades of neglect,” said Katie Friedman, New York ecological restoration program manager for Save the Sound. “By developing a watershed management plan, we will gain a better understanding of the River’s existing conditions and the goals of communities along its banks, to produce a roadmap for collectively improving the Hutchinson River’s water quality, flood resiliency, and ecological habitat. We thank Assemblyman Benedetto for securing this funding that will improve conditions for Bronx residents and local ecosystems alike, and we look forward to collaborating closely with the Hutchinson River Restoration Project, City Island Oyster Reef, NYC Parks, and other stakeholders.” 

“Pollution in the Hutchinson River is a major problem for my district,” said Assembly Member Benedetto (D-Bronx, 82nd District). “Before we can fix it, we need a plan and that’s why I’m so excited to team up with Save the Sound and our local environmental groups to ‘get the ball rolling‘ on this effort! Like my constituents, I’m tired of seeing our section of the Long Island Sound having an ‘F’ for water quality, and together, we will change that negative distinction.”

Katie Friedman and Assembly Member Michael Benedetto at the press conference at Bridge Park at City Island in The Bronx, NY (left) hold up the map of the watershed (right).

Save the Sound, working closely with local stakeholders, will develop a watershed plan for the portion of the Hutchinson River watershed in the Bronx, New York, following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s nine-element plan (9E) approach and incorporating components of resilience and flood planning based on FEMA floodplain mapping and hydrologic analysis. Watershed planning provides a blueprint for future restoration of the River by prioritizing activities to reduce impairments and improve water quality. Save the Sound is currently funded to develop a US EPA 9E watershed plan for the portion of the Hutchinson River watershed in Westchester County using federal funding; this New York State funding will allow for the continuation of the watershed plan into the Bronx portion of the watershed. Specifically, this project will:

  1. Identify nonpoint source (runoff) pollution contributing to water quality impairment and risks associated with flooding in the Bronx, and propose management, restoration, and design recommendations to improve water quality in Long Island Sound and reduce flooding in the watershed;
  2. Identify implementable restoration and stormwater mitigation projects within the Bronx portion of the watershed, with a focus on those that provide flood mitigation and emphasize nature-based solutions; and
  3. Engage and educate municipal agencies, key stakeholders in the watershed, and the public through the formation of a Watershed Steering Committee, volunteer opportunities, public meetings, and webinars.

The ultimate goal, through future restoration projects identified in the watershed plan, is to restore the health of the Hutchinson River and its tributaries to the point where they are removed from the NYSDEC list of impaired waterbodies through water quality improvements, nature-based flood resiliency and green infrastructure projects, and improved policies benefiting communities.

Watch the recording of the press conference here.

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