Frequently Asked Questions

1. Aren't the waterways surrounding New York City too polluted for boating, fishing and swimming?
  • Thanks to the Federal Clean Water Act and changes to industry at the metropolitan waterfront, New York Harbor and its waterways are generally much cleaner than in decades past. Not only can you kayak in the Harbor, you can swim in it, too! Here is a list of organizations that provide kayaking in New York Harbor and the Hudson River:

    Atlantic Kayak Tours
    Delaware & Hudson Canoe & Kayak Club
    Hudson River Paddlers Guild
    Hoboken Cove Boathouse
    Hudson River Watertrail Association
    Manhattan Kayak Company
    New York Kayak Company
    New York Kayak Polo
    Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club

2. Isn’t recreation on the waterways only for rich people?

You don’t have to be rich to have fun on the water! Our waterways have a long history of all kinds of people in many different neighborhoods swimming, fishing, and lounging right on the waterfront. Be it bird watching at Jamaica Bay, paddling the Gowanus Canal, angling in the East River, or just having a picnic on the Staten Island ferry, we have many opportunities for free aquatic fun. Check out the events posted on this web site, most of them free, for some great ideas on how to have fun at and on the water.

3. Is it safe to eat fish from theses urban waterways?
4. How can recreational vessels -- kayaks, sailboats and other small boats -- safely coexist with the gigantic vessels that navigate the waterways?
  • You'll find strong tides and dangerous wakes on the busy New York waterways. Be alert and cautious. Know boating law basics. Have an understanding of the day's tides and weather before venturing out onto the "Blue Highway."
5. Do I need a permit to participate in waterway activities?
6. Doesn’t the trash dumped in NY waterways make boating dangerous?
7. I've heard that raw sewage flows directly into the Hudson.

Sewage is no longer dumped in the Hudson River. In 2003 Governor Pataki made a 153-mile stretch of the Hudson River between Battery Park in Manhattan and the City of Troy Dam in Rensselaer County a no-discharge area. This means that boats are not allowed to dump any sewage (treated or untreated) into the Hudson. Local and state police, harbormasters and bay constables enforce this rule, keeping the river free of diseases and chemicals that can hurt people and marine life. Sewage plants have also stopped dumping into the Hudson. Funding from the Federal Clean Water Act helped upgrade plants like the North River facility on Manhattan’s west side. Striped bass have now returned to the piers just downstream from the North River sewage plant.

9. I've heard the rivers are coming back to life.
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