Riverkeeper Inc

NY's clean water advocate

Ossining, NY   |


Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries, and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally-recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Waterkeeper programs around the world.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Tracy Brown

Main address

20 Secor Road

Ossining, NY 10562 USA

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Formerly known as

Hudson River Fishermen's Association



NTEE code info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Hudson River and its tributaries continue to be polluted by billions of gallons of sewage discharged into the water every year and suffer from the legacy of a hundred years of industrial contamination. The river is the largest Superfund site in the nation. There are also looming threats of sea-level rise and storm-induced flooding as climate change takes hold. The drinking water for New York City and communities in the Hudson Valley is also threatened by industrial pollutants and unchecked development adjacent to waterways.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Legal Program

The legal program provides wide-ranging support to other Riverkeeper programs to advance the objectives of our campaigns on various issues including GE PCBs, fossil fuel transport, clean drinking water, and the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Current live litigation matters include a lawsuit against EPA over water quality standards, lawsuits regarding unpermitted stormwater discharges, cases regarding the expansion of an oil terminal, an administrative proceeding regarding closed-cycle cooling, another administrative proceeding regarding federal over-ride of a state denial of a pipeline, a lawsuit challenging the states general permit for industrial dairy farms, and defense of a lawsuit regarding the agreement to close Indian Point nuclear power plant. Our work continues to develop as new issues emerge. Broadly we are dedicated to cleaning up past pollution and ensuring that new sources of pollution are prevented from further contaminating the Hudson.

Population(s) Served

Riverkeeper’s patrol boat “R. Ian Fletcher” maintains a near constant presence on the Hudson River and its major tributaries between March and November each year, patrolling NY Harbor, the Hudson estuary, the Mohawk and Upper Hudson each month and logging between 5 and 6,000 miles. The vessel has been modified to enable it to best serve its mission as a pollution watchdog vessel, a platform for scientific research and an ambassador for the river.

While conducting regular pollution and water sampling patrols we provide support for scientific studies that advance understanding of the Hudson ecosystem, support Riverkeeper's water quality monitoring program and bring local, federal and regional decision-makers, environmental enforcement agencies, academics, the media, and community stakeholders out to gain new perspectives from the water. On these trips, Captain Lipscomb shares his deep knowledge of the river -- its wildlife, critical habitat zones, pollution sources and water quality management issues. The boat program is critical to Riverkeeper’s work and it’s role is unique on the Hudson River. In 2016, we commissioned and launched a second vessel, a 20’ outboard. This vessel not only allows us to respond swiftly to emergencies but also allows us to work in hard to access areas and locations which the larger Fletcher cannot reach due to height or draft restrictions.

Some of our work in fiscal year 2016 includes:

- Following our successful campaign to remove a barrier to spawning fish on the Wynantskill in Troy we funded a new position at Riverkeeper for a “Restoration Coordinator” and have worked to secure funding for further barrier removal and a film highlighting the ecological benefits to barrier removal in the Hudson Valley.

- Identified three more foam-leaking abandoned barges in the East River for removal.

- Documented thousands of dead bunker in Flushing Bay and used our water quality data to pressure DEP to acknowledge CSO releases in the area were a major contributor.

- Hosted a tech startup for three days in NYC and upriver to produce the first high resolution “Street View” style imaging of the shoreline. This is a pilot project for what we hope will result in full river imaging.

- Documented and reported dozens of pollution cases and CWA violations with legal partners. Initiated cases resulting in corrective action and environmental benefit funding.

- Following an industry request to designate 43 new anchorages for commercial vessels on the Hudson, boat program helped raise critical awareness about the proposal resulting in an unprecedented 10,000 public comments and has since used its contacts on the river to engage specially qualified stakeholders to participate alongside Capt. Lipscomb at USCG’s upcoming Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment, which will address the anchorage question through a broad analysis of navigation safety.

- Continued to attend USCG Area Committee and RRT meetings as a stakeholder, successfully influencing updates to response planning documents used by USCG, DEC, EPA, FWS, NOAA and others.

- Partnered with citizens and municipalities in ongoing opposition to expansion plans at the Port of Coeymans and the Colonie Landfill on the Mohawk.

- Monitored and reported pollution and endangered sturgeon deaths at or near the site of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

- Responded and documented conditions following Con Ed’s 34,000 gallon transformer oil spill in the East River in 2017.

- Along with researchers from Columbia University, conducted a survey employing cutting-edge equipment to identify specific hazardous compounds associated with microplastic pollution, which we hope will spur regulations protective of health and the environment.

- Sampled for EPA for fecal indicator/DNA/Sucralose in order to track the specific sources of fecal contamination in the Hudson.

Population(s) Served

Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program focuses on coordinating community science to gather water quality data from the Hudson River and its tributaries, engaging grassroots and community-level partners in the protection of water resources, advocating for pollution reduction projects and programs locally and statewide, and advocating for protecting water - particularly drinking water - at its source through effective watershed management.

While not exhaustive, these accomplishments demonstrate some of the impact of our work in fiscal year 2016:

- Gathered over 4,750 samples from more than 440 locations, working with more than 170 individuals and more than 75 partner organizations. Most data is reported publicly at - via an interactive map that was expanded in this fiscal year - and/or compiled in reports, including a series of 10 new reports on water quality in tributaries of the Hudson River.

- Advocated for the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which was approved in 2017, and reflects Riverkeeper priorities, including wastewater infrastructure grants and drinking source water protection programs.

- Advocated on behalf of the City of Newburgh, which faces a drinking water crisis after the discovery of toxic water contamination in its primary reservoir. Our work has resulted in or helped to result in government commitments to investigate and remediate the source of contamination, to test blood to determine exposure levels, and to advance long-term protections for the city’s water supply through a watershed-based approach.

- Developed a Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard, as a tool communities can use to audit their drinking water protection programs.

- Fostered the success of the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance to focus on a large tributary of the Hudson River, including expanded monitoring for Harmful Algal Blooms and their precursors, engagement of state-level investment of resources in monitoring and restoration, and public enjoyment of the river via public paddles.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Riverkeeper protects and restores the Hudson River and its tributaries and safeguards the drinking water for New York City and the Hudson Valley. Our goal is to monitor and improve water quality, protect the river from new sources of contamination, restore toxic sites, foster sustainable energy, and connect people to the Hudson.

- Riverkeeper monitors water quality at more than 400 sites on the Hudson River and its tributaries, taking thousands of water samples every year and testing them for bacteria and other measures of water quality so people know where it is safe to swim, fish and boat on the Hudson.

- Riverkeeper patrols the Hudson River and its largest tributary, the Mohawk River, and maintains a Watchdog program to make sure that new sources of pollution and contamination are halted. We use public advocacy and litigation, if necessary, to achieve our goals.

- Thousands of Riverkeeper volunteers take action online to advocate for the River and show up every year at the Riverkeeper Sweep to pick up trash and debris on the shorelines, remove invasive species and plant and maintain native trees and grasses.

- Riverkeeper works with municipalities and community groups up and down the Hudson to protect and safeguard the sources of our drinking water.
- Riverkeeper is committed to removing obsolete dams and restoring habitat for migratory fish that depend on the Hudson's spawning and feeding grounds.

Riverkeeper's patrol boat makes monthly trips from the New York Harbor to the Mohawk River to both collect water samples and keep an eye on the shorelines.

Our Water Quality Program is ably assisted by more than 100 volunteer community scientists, who take samples in the Hudson's tributaries.

Riverkeeper's 5-person legal team of is assisted by Pace Environmental Law Clinic and law firms doing pro-bono work

More than 2,500 volunteers turn out for the Riverkeeper Sweep annually and take action online

Riverkeeper has funding and technical support to remove obsolete and unused dams in the Hudson Valley

In Riverkeeper's 50+ year history we have achieved some notable successes. Riverkeeper 's founder, Bob Boyle was instrumental in the Battle for Storm King in the 1960's and helped successfully oppose the Westway development in Manhattan. Riverkeeper also prevailed in the fights to hold GE accountable for contaminating the Hudson with PCBs and Exxon and other oil companies for contaminating New York City waterways. We are also party to the agreement to shut down Indian Point Nuclear Plant.

Riverkeeper's Water Quality Program has fostered billions of dollars of state investment in water infrastructure and has started an inter-municipal council in the Mid-Hudson valley to protect the sources of drinking water.

Now that the Hudson River has measurably improved, Riverkeeper is increasingly becoming involved in restoring fish populations and riverine habitats.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Riverkeeper Inc

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Riverkeeper Inc

Board of directors
as of 10/27/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Ernest Tollerson

Maria Castaneda

1199SEIU United Health Care Workers East

Carolyn Marks Blackwood

Magnolia Mae Films

Kate Sinding Daly

Nicholas Groombridge

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Alex Herzan

Dale Kutnick

Gartner Executive Programs

Timon Malloy

Ernest Tollerson

Katharine Butler

Fabien Cousteau

Martin Hampel

Karenna Gore

Ellen Kozak

Thomas Lewis

Steve Liesman

Mary McNamara

Emmanuel Morlet

Chief Dwaine Perry

Toby Smith

Sarah Street

Joy James

Gregory Simpson

Megan Boone

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/27/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/29/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.