The Saw Kill is a “direct drainage” tributary to the Hudson River, a source of drinking water, and also a place where treated water is released. The stream and its watershed contain a variety of ecological communities—aquatic, wetland, woodland, field—that support diverse populations of plants, fish, and wildlife.
The Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC) unites area residents who are interested in protecting their water by maintaining the health of the Saw Kill and its watershed. Through our partnership with SKWC, Bard faculty and students have been able to collaborate with community members to do research with a real impact on campus and in the local area. Ongoing projects include amphibian and eel monitoring, and a comprehensive water quality monitoring program powered by citizen scientists.
The Saw Kill, 14.3 miles in length, is contained within a 26.2-square-mile watershed that includes the towns of Red Hook, Milan, and Rhinebeck. It is a subwatershed of the Hudson River Direct Drainage system. Each month, student volunteers and members of SKWC collect samples from 14 sites along the Saw Kill, recording temperature and conductivity. Our lab then analyzes the samples for sewage-indicating bacteria, turbidity, chlorophyll a, colored dissolved organic material, phycocyanin, and optical brighteners.