There exists a common perception that chlorophyll a concentrations in tidal coastal waters are unsuitable to be captured by remote sensing techniques because of high water turbidity. In this study, we use band index measurements to separate active chlorophyll pigments from other constituents in the water. Published single- and multiband spectral indices are used to establish a relationship between algal chlorophyll concentration and reflectance data. We find an index which is suitable to map chlorophyll gradients in the impoundments, ditches, and associated waterways of the Hackensack Meadowlands (NJ, USA). The resulting images clearly depict the spatial distribution of plant pigments and their relationship with the biological conditions of the waters in the estuary. Since these biological conditions are often determined by land usage, the methods in this paper provide a simple tool to address water quality management issues in fragmented urban estuaries.