The Present Management Structure

The Hudson River management structure, once only afforded protections related to navigation and public health, now has a broad range of programs that seek to conserve and protect the aquatic ecosystem and a wide variety of human uses. These initiatives are administered by no fewer than nine Federal agencies, five state agencies, three regional authorities, and countless municipalities. While there is much to celebrate about these programs, Adler (1995) points out that it is difficult to imagine a political system as complicated and as fragmented as that used for protecting and managing water resources in the United States.

Harbor Estuary Program and Hudson River Estuary

Program. In the late 1980s new Federal and state legislation significantly changed the management structure for the Hudson River Estuary. At the Federal level, the Clean Water Act was amended in 1987 to include the establishment of a National Estuary Program (NEP), patterned after the successful operations of the Chesapeake Bay Program. The governors of New York and New Jersey successfully petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to include the Hudson River Estuary (also known as the "New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary") as "an estuary of national significance." Inclusion of the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) into the NEP in 1988 provided an excellent opportunity to take stock of the current environmental conditions and to develop plans to correct unacceptable conditions found in the lower estuary. Though the Harbor Estuary encompasses allofthetidalwatersofNewYorkHarbor and its tributaries, including the Hudson River to the Federal lock and dam in Troy, the HEP has focused its attention on a "core area" that includes the harbor, its direct tributaries, and the Hudson River north to the vicinity of Piermont Marsh (km 40 -Milepoint 25).

The overall goal of HEP is "to establish and maintain a healthy and productive ecosystem with full beneficial uses" by first characterizing the environmental conditions in the estuary, developing a comprehensive plan that recommends actions to improve conditions, implementing those actions, and monitoring the health of the estuary to determine the effectiveness of the actions taken. A "Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan" (CCMP) was adopted in 1996 and the program is now in its implementation phase.

In 1987, the New York legislature enacted the Hudson River Estuary Management Act, which declared that it is the policy of the State of New York to "preserve, protect and, where possible, restore and enhance the natural resources, the species, the habitat and the commercial andrecreational values of the Hudson River Estuary." The Act established an "estuarine district" from the Troy lock and dam to the Verrazano-Narrows in NewYork Harbor, and required the development of a Hudson River Estuary Management Program (HREMP) by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the district in consultation with an advisory committee, which included representatives of commercial fishing, sportsmen, research, conservation, and recreation.

Both management programs have similar challenges that relate to institutional, financial and technical constraints. These challenges must be overcome if there is any hope of achieving the lofty goals established by both programs. Management responsibilities are fragmented and spread among several layers of government and among different politicaljurisdictions. Overlapping responsibilities of agencies canlead to conflicts inprotectionobjec-tives and inefficiencies in resource allocations. The management of complex, important issues is often artificially fragmented within an agency's structure. Some issues may require that two or more different divisions or bureaus within agencies be involved. Lack of coordination and confusion of responsibilities can lead to a dilution of effort. Probably the most important problem, however, is the existence of gaps in authority to deal with complex problems over geographically broad areas, leading to serious problems in program implementation and funding.

An important function that HEP and HREMP provides is coordination. Both programs provide a structured way for agencies, organizations, andin-dividuals to communicate with one another on an ongoing basis. While coordination alone does not ensure that individual organizations will agree to take on expandedresponsibilities or that collaborations will be formed, the role that HEP and HREMP play cannot be underestimated in facilitating the creation of new partnerships to achieve the goals that all have agreed upon. Both programs have a sustainable, long term component missing from previous efforts to provide direction toward comprehensive management. They each had a planning phase, and now have an implementation and action phase that is supported by annual funding for essential program functions.

HEP has characterized problems of the estuary and recommended actions to solve those problems in a comprehensive planning document endorsed by the governors of New York and New Jersey and the administrator of EPA. An implementation phase is now in place where resources are being sought to fund the recommended actions. Lindblom (1995) has cautioned that some comprehensive planning models, that is, ones that seek clear objectives and require explicit evaluations of all potential decisions before proceeding, are attractive for use in solving complex problems, but rarely can be used by policy and decision makers and when used, prove to be unproductive. He states that an intense comprehensive analysis "assumes intellectual capacities and sources that men simply do not possess." Successful solutions and policies to complex problems have generally evolved through step-by-step, incremental planning and execution.

Both estuary programs have no choice but to approach the countless goals and objectives in their respective management plans in incremental ways. Moreover, the development and application of technically sound tools, like mathematical models, have been given high priority by both programs to help forecast future conditions in the estuary in light of management actions that may be taken.

Though both programs have made important progress, the Chesapeake Bay Program is still generally considered the premier estuarine management program in the United States. Much of that success can be linked to the establishment of incremental goals and targets that prescribe for the bay what people concerned about it bay want, and by when they want it. The acceptance and endorsement of these targets by elected officials has led to the allocation of resources to implement the solutions needed to reach those targets. An important aspect of the target setting is that it forces the management structure to assess scientifically how the targets can best be reached and whether they can be reached in the time frames contemplated. Both HEP and HREMP have embarked on similar approaches to the one adopted for the Chesapeake, and at the writing of this chapter, have target-oriented plans awaiting final endorsement by state and Federal officials.

The new estuary management structure that has emerged in recent years through the work of HEP

and HREMP has had to deal with the gaps and constraints of existing authorities. Smith (2002) in an analysis of estuary management inAustralia found that traditional management responsibilities emanating from legislation and regulation, which he terms de jure, often evolves into de facto responsibilities because of external pressures exerted on management authorities. Pressures for change from environmental organizations and champions of certain issues, a lack of response to these pressures from agencies, and new knowledge from scientific researchers have forced officials and agencies to assume expanded management roles. New attention to emerging issues has created de facto management structures which are more responsive to estuarine problems; however, theyare inherently unstable. The de facto structure requires continued pressures from external sources to keep its priority at a high level and to generate a continued supply of resources.

Within the HEP structure, two major initiatives have emerged which follow the de facto management scenario described above. Concern for greater habitat protection and restoration has been strongly expressed at public meetings convened by HEP, and through members of the Habitat Work Group of HEP. Many organizations, including national and local environmental groups, watershed associations, civic organizations, and resource management agencies serve on the Work Group. In 2001, the Work Group identified eighty-eight sites for restoration and sixty sites for acquisition surrounding the lower estuary (Habitat WorkGroup, 2001). Since thousands of acres ofwet-land and aquatic areas have been filled or altered over the years to create new land for an expanding metropolis, HEP is now devoted to saving the remaining important habitat areas and working to restore those sites that have been physically or chemically altered. Since there were no agencies with de jure responsibilities to conduct restoration or purchase sites, creative ways had to be found to move the habitat initiative forward. Groups and individuals, working with the "blueprint" created by the Habitat Work Group, have administratively and legislatively committed approximately $100 million to support the habitat efforts.

Another major de facto effort is the Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP).

In the early 1990s, dredging activities in New York Harbor came to a halt because of environmental concerns over the disposal of dredged sediments at an ocean dump site. Without dredging, ships that carry international cargo and oil products could not safely navigate the waters of the harbor. Their exclusion would be devastating to the regional economy.

Several workshops sponsored by EPA, called the "Dredged Material Forum," were convened to discuss the dredging dilemma among a variety of port stakeholders, including Federal, state and local government agencies, labor unions, regional port officials, environmental organizations, engineering consultants and scientists. While workshop participants were deeply divided on many issues, all agreed that the region needed to address dredging and disposalissues in a more comprehensive way. In particular, new disposal strategies for contaminated sediments needed to be researched and implemented as soon as possible. Also, since contaminants were at the heart of the crisis, a plan should be developed to reduce or eliminate the sources of contaminants that were causing the sediments to be deemed too contaminated for ocean disposal. Awork group was established to develop a plan and present its recommendations to the Policy Committee of HEP for inclusion into HEP's comprehensive plan.

The primary management objectives were: (1) to identify sources of contaminants that needed to be reduced or eliminated in order to render future dredged material "clean" (as defined in applicable guidelines and criteria); (2) to define what actions will be the most effective in abating the sources; and (3) to determine how long it will take for freshly deposited sediments to achieve "clean" status.

The work group made several findings. First, addressing the management questions required that a comprehensive technical analysis be made to understand the linkages between inputs of contaminants to the estuary and their ultimate fate in water, sediment, and biota. Second, since it was important to forecast future conditions in light of potential contaminant reductions, a mathematical modeling framework would have to be developed. Third, new data would have to be collected to quantify ambient contaminant concentrations and develop credible loading estimates for specific contaminant sources. Even though contaminants like PCBs, dioxins, and PAHs were routinely tested in connection with dredged material management, there was very little complementary testing of these chemicals in other media by government agencies or regulated parties. Lastly, the Work Group found that specific government authority (that is, de jure management responsibility) for taking action to reduce contaminants that were violating dredged material criteria was nonexistent. A new de facto management framework, the Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP) was devised to deal with the issue. A management committee now guides the progress of CARP and is composed of representatives from the Hudson River Foundation, the Port Authority of New York andNew Jersey, NewJersey Department of Environmental Protection, NewJerseyMaritime Resources, NewYork Department of Environmental Conservation, the Empire State Development Corporation, Environmental Defense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To the present, funding for CARP totals approximately $27 million. The majority of that amount emanates from the Port Authority through a bistate dredging agreement endorsed by the governors of NewYork and NewJersey.

CARP is perhaps the largest and most ambitious contaminant assessment effort ever undertaken. Nearly one million individual contaminant analyses have been performed. The utilization of these data in an ad hoc management framework is truly remarkable and demonstrates the benefits of having cooperative arrangements, like HEP, in place to bring different parties together to tackle new management challenges.

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