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Tides, Wakes and Buoys in Croton River

August 31, 2006

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The Village has marked “SLOW—NO WAKE ZONE” for the portion of the Croton River that navigable and influenced by Hudson River tides. This section of the river is indicated on the attached aerial map below.

Four new “no wake zone” floats have been installed by that the Croton Police Department’s dive team at four locations in the Croton River in response to resident complaints of speeding jet skis and motor boats on the river. The locations are;

  1. Just north of the Rt.9 “Crossining” bridge.
  2. Across from the Van Cortlandt Manor dock.
  3. The south end of Paradise Island.
  4. The north end of Paradise Island.

The benefits of a speed restriction include protection of the shoreline from wake erosion, safety of kayakers, canoeists and swimmers, reducing disturbance to neighbors and wildlife, and limiting damage to submerged underwater vegetation.

For ease of installation and removal, Village Police Department members mixed concrete at home in five gallon containers instead of using the usual 125 pound mushroom anchors for the No Wake Zone buoys.

At a well-attended open meeting about the Croton River on August 29, residents praised the calming effect of the new Croton Police Boat in bringing about more responsible behavior on the river in July and August.

What is a No Wake Zone?
“Nationwide, any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as “Idle Speed - No Wake” must operate at the minimum speed that allows you to maintain steering and make headway. (This means no wake whatsoever. Possibly 600-900 RPMs depending on your boat).” (Source)

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New York City enacted a No Wake Zone on the Harlem River in March 2006 following the drowning of a rower whose craft was capsized by a passing motorboat’s wake. State navigation law (Section 45) forbids operating a vessel “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing.” This law applies to watercraft from jet-skis to commercial ferries. (Source)

Tides and the River
At high tide the Croton River is navigable by motorized craft from the rail trestle bridge at the Echo Canoe Launch upstream to Firemen’s Island. Most of this tidal portion is now marked as a No Wake Zone. At low tide, navigation on this lower portion of the river is usually limited to shallow draft craft, such as kayaks and canoes. Water level in the lower Croton River varies by as much as 3 to 4 feet with the daily pattern of Hudson River tides.

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This tidal portion of the Croton River is just under half the length of the river within the Croton Bay watershed. The watershed itself encompasses some 3,000 acres and provides drinking water to circa over 10,000 local residents.

Visitors will notice turbidity in the water in this tidal section of the river. The broth-like turbidity is proof of a healthy river, rich in nutrients that are suspended in the lightly saline water. This nutrient loading feeds the insects and crustaceans that feed small fish that feed crabs, heron and eagles. Ocean run fish that enter on the tide, especially in spawning season, may travel further upriver beyond the tidal section—up to the insurmountable Croton Dam. Hence, handsome trout are quite common, as are many other species.

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A mature male blue crab caught in the Croton River. (photo: A. Wiegman)

Water level in the Croton River is also influenced by surface runoff in the watershed and the amount of tailwater that spills from the Dam that supplies drinking water to New York City and many Westchester County communities.

For tide and current data, look up the Haverstraw Bay or Ossining locations at one of these reliable sites from HudsonRiver.com and Colunmbia University.

— Ann Gallelli, Charlie Kane, Leo Wiegman, Trustees, Village of Croton-on-Hudson



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