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Urban Waters Partnership

Urban Waters and the Bronx and Harlem River Watersheds (New York)

The Harlem and Bronx Rivers are part of the larger NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Exitand Long Island Sound Exitsystem, and as such, hold enormous potential to provide open space, beauty, wildlife habitat, and a variety of recreational amenities to millions of New Yorkers.

The Harlem River separates the island of Manhattan from the Bronx, and connects the Hudson River and East River/Long Island Sound. This nine-mile long tidal strait was once a complex system of tributaries, wetlands, and meandering shorelines. Today, it has been channelized, hardened, and heavily impacted by development and industry over the last 200+ years.

The Bronx River originates in upper Westchester County and runs for 23 miles through 13 Westchester municipalities and the heart of the Bronx before reaching its confluence with the East River/Long Island Sound. The Bronx River is NYC’s only remaining freshwater river, although it too, like the Harlem River, has been negatively impacted by urbanization.

Harlem & Bronx River communities are home to an inordinate amount of NYC’s solid waste transfer, wastewater treatment, and electrical generation facilities, have among the highest obesity, diabetes, and asthma rates in NYC, and host the world’s largest wholesale food distribution center, which generates upwards of 20,000 truck trips per day. New York’s 15th Congressional District, the poorest in the nation, spans the southern portion of these two watersheds.

Led by the United States Department of the Interior, Bronx & Harlem River UWFP partners work to help overburdened and underserved Bronx communities reconnect to their waterways, reduce the negative impacts of urbanization on both water quality and human health, and restore impacted riverfronts while pursuing environmental justice.

List of Partners

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Department of Interior, National Park Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • US Department of Transportation
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Forest Service
  • US Geological Survey

State Government

  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Office
  • New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation

Local Government

  • Amtrak
  • Congressman Jose Enrique Serrano's Office
  • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
  • New York City Department of Design and Construction
  • New York City Economic Development Corporation
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • New York City Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Office of the Bronx Borough President, Rubin Diaz Jr.


  • Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
  • Bronx River Alliance
  • Christodora
  • Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
  • Hudson River Foundation
  • NY/NJ Harbor & Estuary Program
  • Riverkeeper
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Waterfront Alliance
  • Wildlife Conservation Society

Partnership in Action Report