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For information about environmental conditions (currents, water temperature, salinity, wave height, etc.) of the New York Harbor area, check the Urban Ocean Observatory at Stevens Institute's Center for Maritime Systems

Events on the Waterfront

Click on the links for more
information about these events.
A detailed calendar of events
may be found at

February 22
Meeting/Hearing: Newtown Creek Watershed/Waterbody Facility Plan
6:30p, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility Visitor Center, 329 Greenpoint Avenue

February 25
Conference: Bronx Parks Speak Up
11a, Lehman College Dining Room

February 26
Cruise: Winter Seals & Waterbirds Eco-Cruise
11a and 2p, South Street Seaport
Walk: Wildlife Walk at Jamaica Bay
10a, for reservations and meeting location, call 718-318-9344

February 27
Panel Discussion: After the Flood: Impact of Climate Change on Regionā€™s Transit Infrastructure
6p, NYC Bar, 42 W. 44th St.
Meeting: Newtown Creek Alliance
6p, LaGuardia Community College,
31-10 Thomson Avenue E500,
Long Island City
Meeting: Saving PortSide NewYork
6:30p, Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street, Brooklyn

February 28
Celebration: Bronx River Winter Assembly
6p, Rocking the Boat, 812 Edgewater Road, Bronx

March 8
Benefit: Harbor School
6:30p-9p, New York Yacht Club, 37 W. 44th St.
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TOCCONTENTS: February 23, 2012
Questions and Answers at the Abu Dhabi Waterfront
MWA's Roland Lewis learns about landfill on a grand scale and
describes NYC's "people's waterfront plan" to a global audience

Eco-concrete is introduced to the metropolitan waters

DEP to Install New Sensors at CSO Outfall Sites
The goal: immediate public notification if there is a problem

Writer Betsy Haggerty pays tribute to the late waterfront pioneer

Harbor Estuary Program Expands to Watershed Boundaries

Crisis at the Mary A. Whalen
Attend a meeting to discuss the future of PortSide NewYork on Monday, Feb. 27

Meet Some MWA Partners!

MWA's Roland Lewis Chairs a Conference in the Middle East
One of the best parts of Roland Lewis's trip earlier this month to chair the international Urban Waterfronts Conference in Abu Dhabi was his side trip to Dubai. There, he went to the beach, visited the famous Palm Islands development on landfill ("Battery Park City with mosques") and explored the city's old section and its waterfront.
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"We take a water taxi to the other side and Muhammad treats me to a local chicken shawarma," Mr. Lewis wrote in his trip blog. "It is delicious and the river is a treat for the eyes, especially at sunset. There are dozens of affordable taxis (about $.50 per ride), tour boats, party boats and small cargo boats. I have been told by a few folks that many of these boats are bringing goods to Iran, with whom trade is tricky. In any event, this waterfront with its human-scale skyline and minarets on the shore speaks eloquently of Dubai's true character, in stark contrast to the modern and sterile high rises and malls that have taken over much of the rest of area."
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The conference, he reported, was "largely broke down into two major categories: description of mega developments in the neighborhood and reinvention of waterfront cities around the world (Barcelona's transformation seemed particularly stunning)." Conference-goers also heard about new marine design technologies and state-of-the-art coastal engineering.

Mr. Lewis launched the two-day event with a presentation of Vision 2020: the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.

"The conference attendees were impressed with our progress in NYC," he told WateWire. "What wowed the crowd was the fact that Vision 2020 is a 'people's plan;' the fact that MWA Alliance Partners' voices and  aspirations were heard by policy-makers was of particular interest to the conference attendees. How the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan was created is as important as the plan itself."


Read more about the Abu Dhabi conference on Mr. Lewis's blog.

Eco-Concrete may Soon Provide a Foothold for Marine Creatures 
Think of all the concrete sunk into metropolitan waters. Smooth and sterile, these bulkheads or pilings are not especially welcoming to a passing bit of algae looking for a place to call home.

WTC anchorWhy not build marine infrastructure that actually fosters the growth of aquatic life? Carter Craft, founding program director of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and now director of long term planning and development for the New York Harbor School on Governors Island, makes this sound like an easy proposition. Start with "eco-concrete," he says, and consider, in particular, ECOncrete from SeArc Ecological Marine Consulting.

Chemically more attractive to marine life, eco-concrete differs from typical concrete in another important way: the surface is textured, not smooth. "It's something for the critters to grab on to," Mr. Craft said.

Guided by Mr. Craft and Marine Science Research Methods teacher Mauricio Gonzalez, Harbor School students have developed a pilot project to start testing the usefulness of eco-concrete. SeArc marine biologist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and his colleague Ido Sella are testing eco-concrete also in the waters of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Gowanus Bay, Jamaica Bay and off Roosevelt Island.

WTC anchorHarbor School students will be suspending eco-concrete tiles in the school's future Boat Basin at Pier 101 (left). Many students will get involved. The scuba class will examine the tiles. The aquaculture class will identify what's growing on the them. The underwater robotics class will build a robot to take underwater photos.

And the city's planners, engineers and environmental advocates will be watching. At SeArc presentations earlier this month, people from City Planning, Economic Development Corp., State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Parks Dept., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Turner Construction (which oversees bulkhead work at Governors Island), and Halcrow, as well as nonprofits like The River Project, were all in attendance. Success, Mr. Perkol-Finkel explained, will be more species and more biomass growing on the eco-concrete compared to plain Portland cement, and a lower ratio between invasive and native species on the test tiles.

"I think they may be on to something very worthwhile with ecologically benign concrete textured roughly to encourage attachment of marine organisms," commented Marcha Johnson, landscape architect and ecological restorationist for the NYC Parks Dept.

"I don't think there was a single person there who wasn't bowled over," said Cathy Drew, founder and director of the River Project. "I can see this being used everywhere in the harbor."

CSO sign 2Combined Sewer Overflows will be Monitored in Real Time
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection announced a pilot program to install new sensors at five combined sewer overflow outfall locations by the end of the year. The sensors will transmit data as overflows are happening, so that the environmental impact can be quantified and the public informed immediately.

The city currently has sensors monitoring 108 CSO locations near recreational areas. These sensors note elevation of wastewater in the system but do not detect direction or rate of the flow, making it difficult to distinguish CSOs from tidal effects or to measure exactly how much overflow is occurring.

The new sensors will allow DEP to calculate CSO volumes released at these five outfall sites:
  • Near the Navy Yard, which empties into the East River
  • In Dutch Kills, which ultimately feeds into Newtown Creek
  • At the Gowanus Canal
  • Near Soundview Park, which empties into the Bronx River
  • Near Gravesend Bay

The Waterfront Pioneer Died One Year Ago
A written tribute by Betsy Frawley Haggerty to the late John Krevey -- owner of the Lightship Frying Pan, part-owner of the fireboat John J. Harvey, co-founder of the North River Historic Ship Society, founder of Pier 66 Maritime, champion of public access to the waterfront -- was honored by the annual Boating Writers International Writing Contest.

Mr. Krevey died unexpectedly one year ago. Ms. Haggerty's tribute, entitled "Remembering John Krevey: Hero of the Harbor," was published in the April 2011 edition of Boating on the Hudson. Read it here.

Photo of John Krevey by Robert Simko

WTC anchorHEP Takes the Watershed Approach
A watershed is a widespread area that drains to a common waterway. Supported by the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency, environmental advocates agree that water resources are best managed and protected when the entire watershed is considered, due to complex, inter-connected conditions.

That's why, after 25 years of existence, the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) -- an organization guided by a partnership of federal, state, city, and civic groups -- decided to make a big change in the geographical footprint of the program. Having recently expanded north to the Troy Dam on the Hudson River and west to the watersheds of the Raritan, Passaic and Hackensack Rivers in New Jersey, HEP's purview now reflects the actual boundaries of the harbor estuary's watershed. "Activities occurring anywhere in a watershed can impact other areas and certainly the estuary -- where the rivers meet the sea. Good examples of these are sediments moving downstream and fish moving upstream," notes the HEP newsletter.

Numerous environmental groups in New York and New Jersey work parallel to the HEP program, such as New York State's Hudson River Estuary Program, part of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and New Jersey's Sustainable Raritan River. EPA Regional Administrator and HEP Chair Judith Enck expects these and other programs to begin to integrate efforts with HEP, as she noted in letters to Senators Charles Schumer and Frank Lautenberg.

Other than the simple logic of the new holistic watershed approach, advocates for watershed-based planning say that more federal funding could be a welcome result of expanded geographic scope. At a meeting of HEP's Policy Committee in late December 2011, attendees brought up potential drawbacks: more meetings, additional issues, raised expectations and more voices to be considered. The benefits outweighed the drawbacks and the committee approved HEP's expansion.

For the EPA's watershed quality assessment report, click here. For information about activities to protect the watershed such as volunteer water monitoring or stream clean-ups, check the EPA's Adopt Your Watershed page and the ideas in the Watershed Stewardship Toolkit. Or, just peruse the list of 600+ partners of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance -- you'll find plenty of volunteer watershed improvement activities.
Want to Help? Attend a Meeting on February 27 
"It is all about funding," writes Carolina Salguero, founder and director of PortSide NewYork, a maritime center based on the historic tanker Mary A. Whalen, in last week's eblast. She says PortSide NewYork needs a home confirmed by April 30 "or we will close and the tanker Mary A. Whalen will likely be scrapped."Mary A Whalen by Bernard Ente

The Mary A. Whalen is currently docked in Red Hook Container Terminal, a place not easily visited by the public. "PortSide is very grateful for that berth," writes Ms. Salguero, "but the need to secure the port means there are Homeland Security regulations and Port Authority rules that prevent us from using the ship for programs or revenue-generating activities there."

For years Ms. Salguero has been trying to move to a permanent spot in Brooklyn's Atlantic Basin. In late 2008, the NYC Economic Development Corporation announced that PortSide NewYork would have a temporary home in Atlantic Basin per Port Authority regulations, and for two summers Ms. Salguero moved the tanker there and produced well-received public programs. A permanent lease, however, is still being negotiated; a representative from the EDC said, "We continue to work with all parties involved to find an equitable solution."

Ms. Salguero has organized a public meeting on Monday, February 27, 6:30pm at the Long Island College Hospital (339 Hicks St., corner of Atlantic Ave. and Hicks St.), to mobilize PortSide NewYork's supporters and to seek suggestions for solutions. "We will ask for letters of support, for people to join committees (fundraising, outreach, real estate planning, etc) and start fundraising," she said. For more details, visit
Photo of the Mary A. Whalen by Bernard Ente
Expanding every week, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance is more than a coalition; it's a force. We are ferry captains, shipping executives, park directors, scientists, sailors, paddlers, swimmers, teachers, urban planners, architects and more. Together, we advocate for the best possible waterfront in the best possible city, a waterfront that is clean and accessible to all, with a robust maritime workforce and efficient, affordable waterborne transportation. Join us! Contact Louis Kleinman at

Meet some Partners of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance:
  • Institute for Rational Mobility

    IRUM was formed to study and promote the enhanced livability and increased economic competitiveness of New York City and other dense urban areas through a program of innovative transport reforms.

  • New York Travel Advisory Burea

    New York TAB promotes New York by providing information and services to individual visitors, travel-related businesses and the media.

  • Wall Street Walks
    Wall Street Walks provides guided walking tours of Lower Manhattan, discovering and tracing the development of Wall Street as the world's financial capital, starting with the birth of Wall Street to the current global center of finance.
  • World Ship Society Port of New York
    Our website aims to be the premier resource regarding Port of New York passenger shipping, current port news, events that celebrate its history, what to see along the waterfront and how to explore our great harbor.
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Ferries Hit by Winter Chill
"Officials who launched the city's East River Ferry service last summer say they always expected ridership to dip in winter, as tourists dwindled and chilly temperatures made a $4 commute across open water less appealing to locals. And it dipped significantly..."
The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2012

Baby Dolphin Washed Ashore In Queens May Be Connected To Cape Cod Strandings
"The three-foot long carcass of a baby dolphin was discovered on the Queens shoreline Sunday, and wildlife experts say the dead cetacean could be linked to a mass stranding off the Cape Cod coast...."
Gothamist, February 21, 2012

Finding Treasures Among Insurer's Wreckage
"For more than a century, Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. covered yachts, steamships laden with gold, and even a seemingly indestructible passenger liner called the RMS Titanic. Then last year, the company itself sank-leaving behind a treasure trove of nautical memorabilia that is now up for sale..."
The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2012

 Q&A: A Real-Life, Synchronized-Swimming Brooklynite on Braving Her Local Waters
"...Have you ever considered holding performances in local bodies of water? We swam on the bay side of the Rockaways and that was pretty disgusting, to be honest..."
Vanity Fair, February 17, 2012

Blasting underway in harbor
"A project that will allow larger ships to pass through Newark Bay and Port Elizabeth begin this week off the shore of Bayonne..."
The Jersey Journal, February 16, 2012

 Far Rockaway Bungalows Offer Welcome Escape for Beach-Starved City Dwellers
"A beachside bungalow that cost approximately $160,000 and was less than an hour from Manhattan sounded too good to be true for actress Barbara Schlachet and her husband Liam..."
DNA Info, January 30, 2012

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