Covered by forests, meadows, marshes and swamps and intersected by streams that eventually emptied into their larger cousin, the Bronx River watershed or drainage basin was similar to most of Westchester County. Over time after European settlement, new farmland gave way to paved roads, parking lots and buildings of all kinds. Today, the watershed is considerably developed, especially in southern Westchester. Low-, moderate- and high-density housing, shopping centers, offices, industry and other similar land uses have replaced many of the natural resources that once dominated the landscape. Even recreational uses, like golf courses and athletic fields, have altered the landscape.
Unlike the forests and wetlands they replaced, parking lots, office buildings, shopping centers, factories, etc. do not absorb the rainfall and melting snow that runs over and through them. Instead, they shed the water, increasing the volume and often the rate at the which stormwater runoff enters streams and rivers, causing flooding. They also add pollutants like oils and grease, metals and salts and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. This polluted stormwater runoff then washes into catch basins and other stormwater infrastructure, where it may go untreated directly into the river and its tributaries. This adds to the degradation of water quality, thereby impeding the river’s ability to host fish and wildlife and recreational pursuits, like fishing and swimming.
The Bronx River Watershed Coalition was formed in 2003 as a partnership among Westchester County municipalities and agencies and not-for-profit organizations seeking the same goal: to improve water quality in the Bronx River. It also helped address flood mitigation. Over time, state and New York City agencies joined the effort. The coalition developed a comprehensive watershed plan, which lays out a strategy for limiting the amount of stormwater runoff and pollutants entering the Bronx River and its tributaries.
Coalition members included municipalities in Westchester County whose boundaries fall wholly or partly within the Bronx River watershed:
|Ardsley||Greensburgh||New Castle||White Plains|
Other members include the:
|Westchester County Department of Planning|
|Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation and the Bronx River Conservancy|
|Bronx River Alliance (Explore this interactive map of the restoration plans.)|
|New York City Department of Parks and Recreation|
|New York City Department of Environmental Protection|
|New York Department of State Division of Coastal Resources|
|New York Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water|
The Center for Watershed Protection, Biohabitats, and Northern Ecological Associates assisted staff of the Westchester County Department of Planning in developing the Bronx River Watershed Management Plan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, and Westchester County Department of Health and Department of Laboratories and Research also provided assistance.
For further information on watershed planning efforts concerning the Bronx River, contact: