Reader Mail: Hudson River safe?


Here’s an interesting observation from Hoboken411 reader Angela. She noticed what she felt was an irresponsible mother allowing her kid to swim in the Hudson River up by Maxwell Place!

If I only had my camera

And they say Britney lacks good parenting skills! I’m kicking myself for leaving my camera at home, but I will try to be as descriptive as I can to share a funny sighting I had this afternoon. I was with my dog enjoying the lush, grassy spread at the new park in front of Maxwell Place. We walked by the small beach area and to my astonishment, saw a little boy swimming in the Hudson River!!! Gross! The woman, who I presume to be the mother, was sitting near the water’s edge dressed in a blue peasant style shirt with white polka dots and a long red patchwork type skirt (reminded me of the American flag, lol) and donned acid rainbow colored hippie hair. The young lad was wearing plaid pajama pants and his sister, who was busy making sand pies, had on a sun dress- so perhaps this was an unexpected pit stop due to the lack of proper swimming attire?


Anyway, the boy was chin deep in the water while gleefully splashing around and soaking up unimaginable toxins (mercury, lead and oil based chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, sewage, to name a few). Ok, so let’s ignore the “No Bathing” sign at the beach entrance for a moment, what about the adjacent (active) shipyard, what about the constant fleet of water ferries passing by, what about the frothy tide of assorted trash (today is was a tattered baseball and some bottles), where is your judgment woman?!?!? As my dog and I starred on in disbelief, a father and his daughter walked by and he turned to me and said, “I’m not too sure about that…” at which point I just shook my head. Should I have said something to the oblivious woman? I wasn’t prepared to launch into a discourse about the potentially dangerous contaminants that lurk in the Hudson River, and besides, they appeared to be having a rather jolly time. As I watched on in amusement, my dog began whining, maybe she was jealous, and I would sooner roll around naked in a dog park than let her take a dip in that polluted cesspool, so we left.

I did some light online research when I got home and there appear to be mixed reports about the conditions and safety of the Hudson River. I’m curious to know what the real health risks are when swimming in the river, as I read some reports of a proposed beach site off the Manhattan shoreline. Maybe it’s not as dangerous as I am assuming, but for now don’t expect me to be jumping in the river anytime soon!

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18 Comments on "Reader Mail: Hudson River safe?"

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the sh!t only flows during and right after rainstorms. Generally after 24-48 hours after these “combined sewer overflow events” all waters in and around NYC have the all clear sign for swimming and fishing. And no offense townie, but I would hardly call that water at Maxwell Place “stagnant.” When the tide comes in it pushes ocean water almost all the way up to Poughkeepsie (60 or so miles north?). And the tidal surge is stronger closer to the NJ shore too. The sediment quality is a fair question. GE’s PCBs and Diamond Shamrock’s DIOXIN (on/in the Passaic and in Newark) are still in there, but as long as you are not scooping up the mud and putting it on ice cream cones you are generally safe. Thanks to the Maxwell Peninsula sticking out into the river and Union Dry dock to the south it makes this area much calmer than most areas. WOuld I let my kid WADE? Absolutely! Swim? only on the incoming tide (unless its really really hot) EAT the mud? um, no. But generally speaking the HUdson is the cleanest it’s been in more than 100 years. And interestingly, it is the ONLY river on the east coast of North AMerica that still has all the spawning (egg-laying) types of fish it has always had. I bet we may even see some harbor seals coming in here this winter, like the sometimes do at Liberty State Park….

If you read 411 on a regular basis you will recall recently that some people were commenting on the amount of shit that is dumped on the storm drains,now expand that to include all of the towns on the river, and ask yourself that same question again.


The water quality is fine as long as it’s not after heavy rains (which drive raw sewage into the water). However, that area of the waterfront is especially dangerous to swim in b/c the currents are so strong. There’s a huge chance the currents can carry someone and pin him or her underneath the barge. Perhaps they need to add fines for swimming in that area?


Well, regardless of whether this lady should or should not have been allowing her kid to swim in the water, there IS a giant “No Bathing” sign around the area *always follows ‘the rules’*- haha:)


[quote comment=”47084″]The quality of the water varies depending on rain storms and natural tides.

I, along with 3000 others, swim in the river once a year as part of the NYC Triathlon. The water is tested prior to the event and if it is deemed unsafe, the swim leg is cancelled. That has happened only once, and was due to several days of heavy rain the days preceeding.

I wouldn’t leisurely swim in the water, but I don’t think it is horribly unsafe.[/quote]
You are so wrong. That beach borders a stagnant body of water that sits next to a construction site. There is almost no water circulation in that area. There are no visible marine plants or aquatic life in that area.

You are out of your mind if you swim in that water. The Hudson River passes the old GE Plants in upstate and is filled with carcinogens and toxic debris. It is never smart to swim in a stagnant area, but this area is especially disgusting. My bet is that we will se fish belly-up next summer when the die because of the lack of oxygen.