The Hudson River south of the Federal dam at Troy comprises an approximately 240 km long estuarine system that has been subjected to an enormous loading of pollutants from a variety of sources for over three hundred years. Until relatively recently, this loading included the discharge of millions of liters of untreated sewage per day. Water quality impacts in this and other estuaries from untreated or partially treated sewage have included: closed shellfish beds and beaches from pathogenic microorganisms; depressed oxygen concentrations from the bacterial breakdown of organic compounds; turbidity from suspended solids; and beach closings, wildlife entanglement, and interference with navigation from a variety of "floatables," including sewage-related paper and plastics (Suszkowski, 1990; Brosnan and O'Shea, 1996a). In response, sewage treatment has focused onreducing the discharge of pathogens, organic total suspended solids, and floatables. More recently, concerns over the contribution of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to algae blooms and depressed dissolved oxygen (eutrophication) have focused investigations into removal of these nutrients from sewage effluents (USEPA, 1996; O'Shea and Brosnan, 2000).
The purpose of this chapter is to document the history of municipal sewage pollution in the Hudson River, highlight impacts of sewage abatement, and discuss remaining challenges related to management and treatment of municipal sewage in the Hudson valley.
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