Conservation Advisory Council
Water Resources
Hyde Park, New York
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Conservation Advisory Council

FAQs about Streams & Wetlands


Why do streams flood?

Many people think that flooding comes from a blockage downstream.  But believe it or not, most flooding comes from upstream!  Flooding usually happens because too much water is sent into a stream, causing the stream to overflow its banks.  Changes in land use like adding more pavement, buildings, and even lawns in place of natural forest can cause water to run off quickly instead of seeping into the ground.  It’s this runoff that causes flooding.


Why do streams and ponds turn green?

Excess algae and plant growth in waterbodies usually happens when too many nutrients are in the water.  One source of nutrients is fertilizers from lawns and gardens.  Another source is faulty septic systems.  The green growth in the water is more than a nuisance; it is actually robbing oxygen from the fish and other animals that live in the water.


Why are wetlands important?

Woodland pools, wet meadows, forested swamps and other wet areas are found throughout Hyde Park. These wetlands provide valuable services to the community:

  • Wetlands hold snowmelt and rain water, reducing floods.
  • Wetlands filter water and return it to underground aquifers that supply our drinking water.
  • Wetlands provide essential habitat for many types of wildlife, including migratory birds.

When it comes to wetlands, bigger isn't always better. Even the smallest wetlands can be valuable. To learn more about wetlands:

National Association of Counties - Benefits of Wetlands booklet (PDF)

"Importance of Small, Isolated Wetlands" (PDF)

Recommendations for Stream & Flood Management in Dutchess County (PDF)


How can I take care of my backyard stream or wetland?

  • Don’t mow to the edge of the stream or wetland – preserve the natural “buffer zone”!
  • Do plant native trees and shrubs in your buffer zone for more anti-erosion power!
  • Don’t dump anything into streams or wetlands!
  • Don’t change the course of your stream!

The buffer zone is the strip of natural vegetation alongside a stream or wetland that separates the water from developed areas like lawns, roads and buildings. Buffers stabilize stream banks, protect water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.


If I don't live near a stream, I don't have to worry about water quality, right?

Even if you don’t live near a stream, we all live in a watershed! The health of our streams depends on how we use the land.  The land area that drains into a waterbody is called its “watershed.”  Land use in the watershed affects how fast water flows into our streams and what pollutants it picks up along the way.

Here's how everyone can help protect water quality:

  • Maintain your septic system. Have your septic tank pumped every 3-5 years to keep it working its best and prevent pollution.
  • Practice natural lawn care. Reduce lawn chemical usage, and choose native plants that thrive without fertilizers and pesticides.  (Added bonus:  they provide wildlife habitat!)
  • Help water soak into the ground. Instead of paving driveways, paths and patios, opt for materials that allow water to soak into the ground.  Trees, shrubs and groundcover absorb up to 14x more water than grass.
  • Dispose of trash safely. Properly dispose of used oil, cleaning supplies, paint, and other chemicals.  Pick up all pet waste and dispose of it safely.
  • Drive smart. Driving less means less pollution.  Be sure to promptly repair any fluid leaks your car develops.
  • Never put anything into storm drains. Storm drains flow straight to streams and creeks.
  • Wash your car on the lawn or at a car wash. Don’t wash on pavement where dirt, soap and oil can flow into storm drains. 


What is Hyde Park doing to protect streams?

The CAC has worked to improve stream health directly by replanting stream buffers.  In May 2008, 24 volunteers gathered at Dinsmore Park in Staatsburg to plant stream buffer that will stabilize the streambank. In May 2009, 30 volunteers planted trees and shrubs to form a water quality buffer along the stream and pond at Greenfields Park. Our latest project was a buffer planting at FDR High School and North Park Elementary, with students from both schools participating.


Where can I find more information on healthy streams?

Hyde Park CAC:

Fall Kill Watershed Coordinator:

Dutchess County Soil & Water Conservation District:



watershed demo

CAC members demonstrate how pollution concentrates in watersheds. (Photo by J. Rubbo)



Volunteers plant a stabilizing stream buffer at Dinsmore Park in Staatsburg. (Photo by E. Svenson)


vernal pool walk

CAC member leads a Vernal Pool Walk to inform residents about these special ecosystems. (Photo by V. Svenson)


stream buffer planting

Volunteers plant trees and shrubs to protect water quality at Greenfields Park. (Photo by E. Svenson)


clean up

Volunteers collect heaps of trash near Fall Kill Lake to keep the water clean. (Photo by J. Rubbo)



The Blanding's turtle relies on complexes of specific wetland types throughout its life cycle.


music in the parks

CAC members present a watershed exhibit at Music in the Parks as part of Watershed Awareness Month 2009.
(photo by J. Rubbo)


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Last updated at Fri Dec 26 11:01:37 2014