Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Ramapo River: Used and Abused

By Alexis Lopez

The Ramapo River, approximately 155 miles long, runs through northern New Jersey from southern New York State. Rumored to be inhabited by Lenape tribes in the past, this historical river has served many purposes through the years.

As with many rivers throughout the United States, environmental issues are currently affecting the Ramapo River. One of the major concerns surrounding this waterway is pollution. There are several factors that have caused the water quality to drop and raise concern for environmentalists.

According to, the urbanization of the areas surrounding the Ramapo River has drastically affected it and the drop in water quality. The developing of bordering towns, and elevated human activity are partly to blame for the downgrade in the river’s conditions.

Alexa Baldecchi, a sophomore at Ramapo College, said that she is worried about the Ramapo River being polluted.

“First of all, I’m concerned for the fish and the other wildlife that live in and around the river,” she said. “Also, I’m concerned about how the river being polluted directly affects me as a Ramapo student. Obviously the river is close by, so what does that mean for us?”

In a recent WNYC news report by Bob Hennelly, he covers the suspicions behind a series of fish deaths in the Ramapo River area. According to the article, hundreds of fish in the Rockland County region were found dead earlier this month.

A nearby municipal mulch site is rumored to be at fault for the high number of fish deaths in the area by omitting low dissolved oxygen into the water. This contamination along with the possibility of others is causing some students to question whether drinking water on campus is “safe.”

“My professor said that there has been dumping around the Ramapo River,” Baldecchi said. “A big concern of mine is how clean the water is for drinking.”

According to Hennelly’s report, the Ramapo River serves as a major drinking source for residents in the New York and New Jersey areas.

Other recent incidents pertaining to the Ramapo River have been reported. Late in the summer of last year, after a flood, Mahwah residents reported seeing dead fish and animals covered in fuel. According to an article on, Bergen County officials ordered a test to be conducted to determine whether a large home heating oil spill in Tuxedo, New York contaminated the water.

Baldecchi said that she feels big companies are often to blame.

“Businesses aren’t going to stop polluting and contaminating our waterways,” she said. “It’s unrealistic to think that everyone is going to care and not litter, that’s the problem. People just need to care.”

If local residents and members the Ramapo River community continue to care and strive to alleviate, advocate and raise awareness, pollution to this natural run can be depleted.

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