The headwaters of the Roeliff Jansen Kill, some of which begin in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, come together in Columbia County to make it one of the Hudson River’s largest tributaries. Its watershed encompasses forest preserves, rural farming communities, and the towns of Hillsdale, Copake, Ancram, Gallatin, Clermont, Livingston, and Germantown. The Roe Jan Watershed Community (RJWC) began monitoring the Roeliff Jansen Kill for Enterococcus, a sewage-indicating bacteria, in May 2016. As of 2017, RJWC members sample at 16 points in the Roe Jan, its tributaries, and the nearby Hudson from October to May. Entero samples are processed at the Bard Community Sciences Lab, which also records temperature and conductivity data collected by RJWC volunteers.
The Roe Jan Watershed Community started as a citizen science project to assess the health of the Roeliff Jansen Kill. That volunteer effort has evolved into a robust monitoring program that helps inform residents’ choices about recreation as well as natural resource protection policies and planning.
Stretching from Hillsdale to Germantown in New York’s Columbia County, the Roeliff Jansen Kill flows for over 54 miles, draining a 212-square-mile watershed before discharging into the Hudson River. Since 2016, Bard has partnered with the Roe Jan Watershed Community and Riverkeeper to monitor the health of the waterway as a source of drinking water, recreation, and critical habitat for migratory fish.