Water in NYC Classes
Water in NYC educates New Yorkers of all ages to become stewards of the water that surrounds them. The program provides participants with information about improving water quality and the ecological richness of the habor estuary.
Workshop topics include local ecology, the East River Estuary, fishing, water infrastructure, the urban water cycle, water conservation, and water quality monitoring. Read below for full class descriptions.
East River Ecology
East River Ecology teaches students about the animals and plants that live and thrive in the ecosystem of an estuary. Located in the well-protected harbor where fresh water from the Hudson River and streams mixes with the salty ocean water, the Harbor Estuary supports a variety of animals and plants. Through the East River Ecology curriculum, participants are exposed to vocabulary and fun facts about the estuary in addition to particular plants and animals found in the East River. Students have the opportunity to catch-and-release estuary organisms, perform water quality monitoring and map out their own impact on the estuary by looking at their own contributions to pollution. Through the Ecology Center's East River Ecology Program, participants begin to understand the beautiful complexity of the estuary.
Estuary Snapshot Day
Estuary Snapshot Day has taken place at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Columbia University, every year since 2003. Hudson River Snapshot Day is designed to celebrate the Hudson River Estuary and educate participants on the uniqueness of our estuary as part of the annual recognition of "National Estuaries Week". Each fall, environmental education centers are encouraged to team with school classes along the Hudson River to create a day-in-the-life picture of the river from the Troy Dam to New York Harbor.
Our public fishing clinic can be adapted to fit the needs of your school or community group. Please see the description in the Public Programs section.
Our Sewer System
Combined Sewer Overflow – or CSO – occurs when wet weather overwhelms the City's sewage treatment process, and results in approximately 27 billion gallons of untreated wastewater being discharged into the estuary. While experts consider CSO pollution to be the leading threat to water quality in the estuary, it is of particular concern to the wide range of waterfront users that work, learn and recreate right where CSOs happen. The Ecology Center offers a variety of curricula and materials for examining New York City’s water infrastructure and CSO pollution including The Water Underground and the Citizen's Guide to the Sewershed.
Urban Water Cycle
The Urban Water Cycle program of the Ecology Center invites participants to explore and contrast the urban water cycle and the natural water cycle, and to learn where New York City gets its drinking water. After distinguishing between these two cycles, participants are asked to think of how different plants and animals use water. Participants may also explore activities about weather monitoring and water-related data collection. The program ends with a personal water use survey that will help participants to examine when and what they use water for every day.
The need for water conservation is sometimes hard for people to appreciate because water is such a basic need that it is taken for granted, and New York is a city that has long had access to quality tap water. The source of this high quality water is also far removed from the City, located in the watersheds and reservoirs of upstate New York. However, as the population of the City and upstate increases, there is a growing need for New York to turn its attention to this most precious of all resources. The Ecology Center's Water Conservation programs show how and why our water supply is at risk and what can be done about it. They will recommend ways for everyone to introduce practical efficiencies into their lives, while noting the impacts we all are having daily on our water supply. Water conservation classes both focus on the obvious needs for water in our daily lives (for drinking, showering, and cooking for example) and how surface water is an important source of recreation for New Yorkers.
Water Quality Monitoring
Water quality monitoring is a tool to determine the health and the level of pollution in our surface waters, such as the estuary, and includes testing characteristics of the water such as pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. Water Quality Monitoring exposes participants to the important role of the estuary along with the impact that human activities have on this aquatic habitat. The Water Quality Monitoring curriculum walks participants through vocabulary that pertains to the Hudson River Estuary, describes how each component of water contributes to the health or pollution of the Estuary and explains the different ways to measure the physical and chemical properties of water pollution in the East River. Many online resources and activities are provided for interested participants, students and teachers.