Since 2016, NYC Parks staff have been monitoring the water quality within Freshkills Park to look at the health of the waterways. Tidal creeks run through the center of the Freshkills Park site, branching off in different directions from the Arthur Kill. The creeks have become a home to many wildlife, as well as a popular place for kayak tours.
NYC Sanitation regularly conducts tests to monitor the air, surface water and groundwater at Freshkills Park. While the data that Sanitation collects is used to assess the effectiveness of the landfill infrastructure, NYC Parks water testing is focused on tracking the site’s restoration from an ecological perspective.
In 2016, middle school and high school students had the chance to participate in a water monitoring program at Freshkills Park. The program included a guided field trip of Freshkills Park, as well as an activity working with accredited water monitoring lab equipment. Students analyzed samples of water from Main Creek to test for five different parameters: pH, phosphate, nitrate/nitrite, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. Their results were recorded and entered into Freshkills Park’s water monitoring database. This gave students the chance to contribute to ongoing research projects at the park by collecting basic water quality metrics.
Between June and September 2017, Parks staff also partnered with the College of Staten Island (CSI) and the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC) to conduct weekly water tests on Richmond Creek and Main Creek. The samples were turned over the IEC lab at CSI, where they were tested for Fecal coliform and Enterococcus at both locations. The measured concentrations met safe boating standards set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Additionally, the average oxygen content and the average pH were well above safe limits for the fish and invertebrates that live in the creeks.
The results have been great news for the plants and wildlife that call the park and its creeks home. Cleaner water means a healthier ecosystem from every aspect. The data collected will go on to inform future studies concerning the health of the creeks. It will also give staff a baseline to track the improving quality of the waterways in Freshkills Park.