HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Hackensack Riverkeeper, the citizen-steward of the Hackensack River, is once again joining GivingTuesday — the global generosity movement — to help unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

GivingTuesday 2020 kicks off a season of giving on December 1 by inspiring people to give back now and throughout the year. This GivingTuesday marks a special one for the Hackensack Riverkeeper. This past year, the organization suffered a bout of misfortune when it lost its office to a four-alarm fire that ravaged both their office and other commercial buildings at its Main Street address on May 16 and suffered significant funding deficits in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic (it still managed to conduct its eco-programs that served nearly 10,000 people, despite hardships.) The group’s ongoing work positively affects the health, quality of life and environment for more than 1.5 million people who live within the greater Hackensack watershed region.

For GivingTuesday 2020, Hackensack Riverkeeper is working to raise funds to support its newest — and one of its most ambitious — programs to date: Clean Water Monitoring Team. The team this past summer partnered with the CUNY Staten Island-based Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC). Riverkeeper staffers and volunteers visited five public access sites along the Hackensack where they recorded temperature, pH, salinity, and the level of dissolved oxygen at each location. Water samples were collected at each site and were laboratory-tested for the presence of fecal coliform bacteria or for Enterococcus.

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“Despite all we had to deal with in 2020, we were extremely happy to put our team together and join that ongoing regional monitoring program,” said Riverkeeper Program Director Hugh Carola, who arranged the IEC partnership and who oversees the organization’s efforts. “We’re very much looking forward to continuing that important work next year and hopefully, with Giving Tuesday support, expanding the scope of our testing and sampling.”

Each week after the team’s data was collated by IEC, Outreach Coordinator Samantha Kreisler posted the numbers on the the group’s newest water quality blog. Public officials, policymakers and any interested parties can access this quality-assured data to better inform themselves and their constituents about the health and safety of those tested waters.

“Raising funds for our testing program is vital to protecting and restoring the Hackensack River. It allows us to establish a baseline of parameters — such as bacteria or temperature — to better understand and improve the health our river and its watershed,” said Kreisler. “In terms of watershed management, knowledge is power."

In recent years, GivingTuesday has helped Hackensack Riverkeeper raise funds for its Junior Stewardship program, expanding River Cleanups, purchasing new equipment for its kayak centers – and more.

Those who are interested in joining Hackensack Riverkeeper’s GivingTuesday Clean Water Monitoring Team initiative should visit hackensackriverkeeper.org/givingtuesday/.