The Hudson River in New York

words by Samantha Summerfield, written in eighth grade, as part of her self-chosen project for school.

What’s the best way to spend a summer day in Upstate New York? On the water, preferably by kayak. The northern part of the Hudson River is especially peaceful, clear, clean, and beautiful: great for kayaking.

The Hudson River, located in New York, flows north to south for 315 miles; its deepest point is 216 feet. The river is home to a variety of wildlife, including herons, geese, frogs, toads, and salamanders. Its diverse ecosystem is comprehensive and fascinating.

I live near a portion of the lower Hudson where, in contrast to the upper portion, the water is distinctly dirtier. I kayak on the Hudson frequently and, as I explored more of it, I started to notice just how dirty the river is. I began to wonder what was causing these differences in the water. This questioning, along with my interest in the outdoors, nature, and science, inspired me to do my honors project on the water quality of the Hudson River.

Kayaking the Hudson River in New York

To study the water quality, I performed water quality tests along the river, which turned out to be one of the hardest parts of the project. I went to different spots along the Hudson and tested for phosphate, nitrate, chlorine, dissolved oxygen, pH, and E. Coli. I would put a sample of water into a test tube and drop a tablet in, then wait for a certain amount of time, which was determined by the type of test I was doing. I would then check the water and compare the color it changed to against a color-coded slip of paper that held a key showing what water colors correlated with what chemicals.

In the end, all the tests were normal so I performed one final test for Coliform, a bacteria that is a common indicator of sanitary quality. The more Coliform present, the more compost and pathogens a sample contains. This last test supported my observations from kayaking: there were high amounts of Coliform in the lower Hudson and low amounts in the upper Hudson.

Through the patience and hard work this project took, I learned a lot about the outdoors, living habitats, river conditions, and the world around us. Knowing what I know now, I want to try and help the environment. I can try to clean up the area around the Hudson but, just as importantly, I can tell people about this project because not everyone knows how to help the environment. To help, we can decrease the amount of sewage that goes into the water, we can join clubs or organizations to clean up the water. No matter how we take action, we all need to be involved; we all need to take care of our environment.

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About the Author

AuthorSamantha Summerfield wrote this as an eighth grader who loves to kayak. Her favorite parts are seeing the wildlife on the Hudson River and hopes to contribute some of her life to cleaning up the river.