Stories of Water and Waste

In the spirit of O+, STORIES OF WATER AND WASTE: A Walking History of the Hasbrouck Sewershed, envisions wellness as more than just an individual concern. Embodying wellness means thinking about how communities work together with their ecosystems to create sustainable and just systems. The diverse and thriving communities of Mid-town and Rondout in Kingston are home to antiquated urban infrastructure. This area contains a combined sewage overflow system that, under heavy rain or snow melt, releases untreated sewage directly into the Rondout Creek, impacting environmental and human health.

Besides sewage, plastic trash, road salt and many pollutants find their way into the river, affecting the well-being of the Hudson, a drinking water source for 100,000 people. Before the start of the festival, the students of SUNY New Paltz created a massive ball using recycled plastic donated by the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA). Weighing 220 pounds, this ball allows us to visualize the amount of plastic that the averageAmerican throws away each year.

Festival participants will meet at Broadway and Foxhall Ave on Sunday October 13th at noon with Riverkeeper watershed educator Sebastian Pillitteri, Director of the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, Emily Vail, and SUNY New Paltz professor Matthew Friday. After a short discussion about Kingston’s ecology, history and infrastructure, participants will begin rolling the giant ball of recycled plastic as they walk the route of the city’s largest remaining sewer overflow system. While tracing the path of the sewer, this work will also recognize the buried stream that traveled the same path and the City of Kingston’s current steps to separate stormwater and sewer water. We will stop at several spots to point out various aspects of Kingston’s infrastructure and entangled ecology. The mysterious Plady, a being made of recycled plastic bags, conceived of by Maxine Leu and performed by Sanford Fels, both sculpture students at SUNY New Paltz, will serve as parade leader and mascot for the walk. Made with over 300 plastic bags, the amount the average American uses each year, Plady was born to celebrate Ulster county’s plastic bag ban and serve as a champion for responsible recycling of all kinds.

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson. Additional support provided by SUNY New Paltz Office of Campus Sustainability.