Water Pollution in the Hudson River: Captain Maher's Story

Water Pollution in the Hudson River: Captain Maher's Story
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.99

     challenging words:    high-reaching, riverfront, tar-like, wastewater, enactment, profound, riverboat, byproducts, storm-water, sewage, unprecedented, better, asphalt, gastrointestinal, currently, federal
     content words:    Captain Maher, Hudson River, Henry Hudson, New York City

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Water Pollution in the Hudson River: Captain Maher's Story
By Jennifer Kenny

1     Captain Maher is in charge of a riverboat. He's not a ferry captain. He's not a captain taking people on a vacation cruise. Instead, he's part of a scientific team that studies the Hudson River.
2     In 2009, Hudson River communities celebrated a special occasion. It was the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of Henry Hudson up the body of water that was later named after him. Has 400 years changed the river at all? It certainly has. Unfortunately, it hasn't always been for the better.
3     For many, many years the Hudson River was deluged with waste in certain areas. Around 40 years ago, federal clean water laws were developed. The enactment of those laws may have made the Hudson River its cleanest in a long time, but it still has many hurdles to overcome.
4     What does Captain Maher see as the major threats to the Hudson River? Old storm-water treatment systems, past abuses, unprecedented building along the waterfront, and climate change are just a few of the concerns. These issues are so serious that people question Captain Maher on a daily basis as to whether the water is safe enough to swim in. Unfortunately, it's not a joke when people ask. Captain Maher contends that some areas should never have humans swimming in it. Other areas can be very good one day and very bad the next. He finds the conditions change day by day, section by section. He comments that residents know to stay out of the river right after it rains, just in case raw sewage has been washed in. Where does the sewage come from? Old wastewater treatment plants dump billions of gallons of raw sewage into the Hudson River each year.
5     Other issues include the need to clean up old factories. Toxic chemicals called PCBs have destroyed the Hudson River's fishing industry. There's also an old asphalt plant that used to send tar-like byproducts into the river.

Paragraphs 6 to 12:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

Extended Activities:

1.  Research ten interesting facts about Henry Hudson.

2.  Create a poster reinforcing the need to clean the river.

3.  Find out what the problem is between the old General Motors plant and the Hudson River.

4.  Create a three dimensional riverboat.

5.  Find out details regarding the fish decline in the Hudson River.

6.  Find out if local bodies of water in your area are clean and safe.

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