Rob Pirani: The Hudson River, A Clarion Call for Stewardship

In this episode–the 3rd in a mini-series titled “New Life for America’s Big City Rivers”–we discover The Hudson River with Rob Pirani, program director of  The New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program.

Rob Pirani, Program Director, The New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program

The Hudson River is one of America’s most storied and imperiled rivers. As the New York City Metropolitan Area grew over time, unabated dumping of waste water and industrial pollutants into the river took a heavy toll on the health of the ecosystem. In 1966, alarmed at the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, legendary musician and activist, Pete Seeger, built a 106-foot sloop–the Clearwater–and for years sailed numerous educational voyages on the waterway. Seeger’s outreach that mixed music and environmentalism awakened thousands of people to use their voice for change; the effort is widely credited as pivotal in gaining approval of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. 

Against this backdrop of history, we pick up the conversation with Rob Pirani and learn about improvements to water quality of the Hudson River today and the life that’s returning to the Estuary.  Rob outlines what’s being done to address residual pollutants in the river system and the research and planning underway for new projects designed for adapting to climate change.  

One of the important projects taking place in the Estuary is the reestablishment of oyster reefs to provide breakwaters that can reduce wave velocity during storm surge, protect against erosion, and provide natural water filtration.  The Billion Oyster Project is embraced by the community and proving to be a success.  

Rob’s passion for reconnecting people to the Harbor Estuary is impressive and we’ll hear firsthand about his thoughtful approach to supporting communities and the need for providing equitable access. The episode concludes with Rob sharing experiences that have been fun and rewarding.

For additional information and to support Rob’s work, go to The Hudson River Foundation

All rivers have stories that ripple. 

I’m Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work.