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Division of Water

Mark Klotz, Director
Tom Cullen, Assistant Director

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Welcome to the Division of Water webpage! The Division conducts a variety of programs to protect and conserve New York's waters. On this page you will find information about the Division's programs and recent activities.

What's New in the Division of Water?

The Division of Water uses this page to highlight water-related information that we think may interest you. This page is updated weekly and topics are typically posted here for about 30 days. If a topic has a specific end date (such as a public comment period or an event), the description is removed after the end date.

DEC Launches Municipal Sewage System Asset Management Pilot Program

DEC is offering municipalities the opportunity to volunteer to be part the state's Municipal Sewage System Asset Management Pilot Program. Asset management is a tool to help municipalities manage their wastewater system so that it can meet consumer demands. The pilot program is expected to run for three years, and the state anticipates that up to twenty municipalities will be able to participate. At the conclusion of the program, the participating municipalities can expect to have a completed municipal sewage system asset management plan and the tools (e.g., computerized asset management system) to implement the plan.

Applications are due on January 20, 2016.

Water Withdrawal Guidance Available for Public Review

Technical and Operational Guidance Series (TOGS) 1.3.12 regarding the incorporation of flow-related conditions in water withdrawal permits is now available for public review.

When there are large withdrawals from a water body, DEC must consider the amount of water that should be allowed to continue downstream (passby flows or reservoir releases) for other withdrawal uses and to provide protection for aquatic habitats. TOGS 1.3.12 will guide DEC on how to determine these protective flows or releases and incorporate adequate requirements into corresponding water withdrawal permits.

Written comments on TOGS 1.3.12 must be submitted by close of business on Monday, December 21, 2015.

Winners Announced for 12th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards

Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos presented Environmental Excellence Awards to seven recipients on November 17 at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany.
The 2015 winners are:

  • NHL GREEN: The National Hockey League is reducing its environmental footprint and engaging millions of hockey fans, global businesses and local communities in sustainable action.

  • Jacob K. Javits Center's Sustainable Transformation (New York County): The Center recently completed an impressive and comprehensive sustainable transformation, including a seven-acre green roof--the second largest in the nation.

  • Intervale Lowlands Preserve's Ecosystem Monitoring and Management Program (Essex County): Intervale Lowlands Preserve, located near Lake Placid, is using innovative, high-tech approaches to ecological management, monitoring and research, all which are advancing New York's commitment to combat climate change.

  • New York City's Clean Soil Bank (New York County): The New York City Mayor's Office of Environmental Remediation was honored for its program that enables real-time, no-cost transfers of excavated soil for fill at nearby construction sites--significantly reducing truck traffic, improving air quality and saving taxpayer dollars.

  • New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation's Solar Program: NYS Parks has developed and implemented an innovative business model for advancing sustainability and promoting the use of solar power, becoming the only state agency to train in-house staff as solar installers.

  • Town of Williamson's Strategic Plan to achieve Electricity Independence (Wayne County): The town of Williamson, one of New York's designated Climate Smart Communities, is the first New York town to use solar energy to power all of its municipal buildings as part of its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint.

  • Upper Susquehanna Coalition's Stream Team Flood Response Training Program: Upper Susquehanna Coalition was honored for its Stream Team Flood Response Training Program, which enhances New York's capacity to respond to stream management issues in post storm situations. The Coalition is a unique collaboration of 16 New York Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

For more information about the program and past winners, and to learn about applying for the 2016 Environmental Excellence Awards, visit DEC's Environmental Excellence Awards webpage.

Biological Assessment of the Bronx River

The Division of Water's Stream Biomonitoring Unit has completed a report on biological sampling of the Bronx River. The Bronx River has been sampled previously, with reports published in 1998 and 2003. Since management and restoration efforts have been increasing recently, there was interest in a resurvey of the river. This benthic macroinvertebrate community assessment indicates water quality in the Bronx River remains impaired for aquatic life. All sampling locations were assessed as moderately impacted. However, in the 2003 report, it was suggested that the appearance of mayflies in the Bronx River would serve as an indicator of water quality improvement, and in the present survey mayflies were found at each location, although in very low abundance and diversity. Their presence should continue to be monitored and will hopefully increase in number and diversity in the future.

The report is available on the Long Island Sound-Atlantic Ocean Watershed Reports webpage.

Reminder: Cutoff Date for Fertilizing Lawns is December 1

If you plan to fertilize your lawn this fall, remember that New York has a state law that restricts the use of lawn fertilizers. It is against the law to fertilize lawns between December 1 and April 1. Check local laws, too. Some municipalities have local laws about selling and using lawn fertilizers (i.e., Suffolk County prohibits the application of lawn fertilizers after November 1).

To learn about other requirements of the Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law, visit DEC's webpage. The law does not apply to agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens.

Phosphorus Can Cause Serious Problems

Excess phosphorus in freshwater lakes and ponds can cause algae overgrowth, with serious impacts to the environment and public health.

Great Lakes Action Agenda Workgroup Meetings to be held in December

DEC will host four workgroup meetings to advance key priorities for New York's Great Lakes basin as identified in the state's interim Great Lakes Action Agenda (GLAA):

  • Lake Erie Work Group -- December 2, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. in Depew
  • SW Lake Ontario Work Group -- December 3, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. in Rochester
  • NE Lake Ontario Work Group -- December 14, 10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in Watertown
  • SE Lake Ontario Work Group -- December 15, 10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in Geddes

The focus of this round of meetings will be on defining ecosystem-based management project criteria, discussing sub basin priorities and further developing projects in support of GLAA goals. For more information about these workgroups and the meetings, go to the Great Lakes Action Agenda webpage.

Biological Assessment Available for Callicoon Creek

The Division of Water's Stream Biomonitoring Unit has completed a report on biological sampling of Callicoon Creek conducted in 2014.The purpose of the survey was to provide current baseline water quality information for comparison with historical data collected in the watershed. The results of this survey are similar to historical data on Callicoon Creek. Biological assessment of eight sites on the stream and its branches indicated non- to slightly impacted macroinvertebrate communities. Overall water quality in Callicoon Creek is fully supporting of aquatic life.

The report is available on the Delaware River Watershed Reports webpage.

Amendments to Water Quality Standards Regulations - Class I and Class SD Saline Surface Waters

The NYS DEC has amended Parts 701 and 703 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York (6NYCRR). This rulemaking was necessary to meet the "swimmable" goal of the federal Clean Water Act.

These amendments require that the quality of Class I and Class SD saline surface waters be suitable for primary contact recreation, such as swimming. The amendments also establish standards for total and fecal coliforms, to protect these waters for contact recreation.

These changes went into effect on November 4, 2015, when the notice of adoption was published in the State Register (a direct link to the State Register is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page).

New Law Will Reduce Drugs in Environment

On October 26, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will provide an environmentally conscious way for people to return drugs for proper disposal instead of flushing them or leaving them in their medicine cabinets. Pharmacies can now request permission from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to accept unused or expired controlled drugs (such as oxycodone) from the public for proper disposal.

Pharmaceuticals that are disposed of incorrectly can end up in lakes and rivers, affecting fish and other aquatic wildlife, and there are growing concerns about other potential water quality impacts. More information about pharmaceuticals in our waters is available on the DEC's Drugs in New York's waters webpage.

WI/PWL Water Quality Assessment Updates

Updates of water quality assessment information for individual WI/PWL waterbodies are announced through MakingWaves. Most recently, WI/PWL Fact Sheets for the following waterbodies have been revised/updated:

Comments on these (or other) assessments are welcome via email.

In addition, the WI/PWL webpages are being modified to make it easier to find Fact Sheets for specific waterbodies of interest. These changes have now been completed for the Mohawk River Basin.

Blue-green algae bloom notification season has ended for 2015

Blue-green algae bloom information from 2015 has been summarized and moved to the Archived Blue-green Algae Bloom Notices webpage. DEC encourages the public to view the archived reports to be aware of lakes that were listed on the notification web page in the past.

2015 Year End Summary

During the 2015 sampling season (May - October), over 120 waterbodies from throughout the state were listed on the Blue-green Algae Bloom Notices webpage. Over 3,000 samples were collected by DEC and its partners, and of those, about 750 had evidence of blue-green algae blooms that led to weekly updates on the notification page.

DEC documented 44 lakes with "suspicious" blooms, 62 lakes with "confirmed" blooms, and 24 lakes with "confirmed with high toxins" blooms. These incidences ranged from a single observation to widespread blooms that were persistent throughout the season. Fifty-eight lakes with blue-green blooms were identified through DEC or other baseline monitoring programs and 28 lakes were identified by public reporting outside of baseline monitoring programs.
DEC's partnerships with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, SUNY Stonybrook and other agencies were instrumental in the collection and analysis of samples as part of DEC's efforts to monitor blue-green blooms.

Blooms may still occur in the fall and winter

Blue-green algae may still occur on waterbodies throughout the fall and possibly winter, although fewer blooms occur as wind and air temperatures rapidly decrease in the fall. Because waterbodies may have blue-green algae blooms that have not been reported to DEC, we recommend avoiding contact with floating mats, scums and discolored water - If you see it, avoid it and report it!

Continue to report suspected blooms

If you suspect you have seen a blue-green algae bloom, or you, your family, or pet has been in contact with a blue-green algae bloom, please follow the instructions for reporting a bloom to DEC.

DEC Issues Permits for 14 New York City Wastewater Treatment Plants

On October 16, 2015 DEC issued revised State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits for 14 New York City wastewater treatment plants (a direct link to these permits is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page). These plants provide treatment of a combined average flow of 1.2 billion gallons of sewage daily, which is about half of the entire state's sewage treatment capacity. The permits include discharge limits for the wastewater treatment plants' discharge, as well as requirements for combined sewer overflows, pollutant minimization, industrial pretreatment, flow management, shoreline surveys, outfall identification and asset management. These permits will have significant water quality benefits, better protection of aquatic life, and improvements to maximize treatment capacity to minimize sewage overflows.

Hudson River Estuary Program Grants for Local Stewardship Planning and River Access and River Education

DEC has announced approximately $2,220,000 in competitive Hudson River Estuary Grants is available to implement priorities outlined in the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda aimed at conserving or improving clean water; fish, wildlife and their habitats; waterway access; the resiliency of communities; and river scenery. This funding is provided by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through two grant opportunities: Local Stewardship Planning, and River Access and River Education. The Local Stewardship Planning opportunity is focused on supporting local organizations and communities with projects for planning, feasibility studies, and/or design that build on training and technical assistance to improve local stewardship. Seven project types are available under this opportunity.

The River Access and River Education opportunity will assist organizations and communities with improving river access and education. Eight project types are available under this opportunity. Proposed projects, except for Environmental Justice (EJ) projects, must provide or improve direct access to the tidal waters of the Hudson River Estuary or Upper New York Bay for boating, swimming, fishing, wildlife-related recreation, or to improve estuary-focused education.

How to Apply:

Visit the Hudson River Estuary Program's webpage for more details. All applications must be submitted in the Grants Gateway (a direct link is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page) by 3:00 PM on December 16, 2015.

Request for Water Resources Research Grant Program Applications

Applications are now being accepted from New York State's higher education community for the New York Water Resources Institute / Hudson River Estuary Program 2016 Water Resources Research Grant Program. Approximately $130,000 is available for research, management, and outreach activities related to water resources in New York. Up to $20,000 is available per project. Projects throughout New York are eligible, but proposals related to the Hudson River Estuary region are particularly encouraged.

Applications are due by Tuesday, December 1 at 5:00 PM. For more information, including how to apply, go to DEC's Clean Water for the Hudson River Estuary webpage.

SPDES Permits Now Available to Interested Stakeholders

DEC has posted a number of State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits on the internet. Now you can view and print individual permits and Multi-Sector General Permits (MSGP). More permits will be posted in the future. Access the SPDES permits through DEC's SPDES webpage.

Grants Available to Implement the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda

DEC has announced the availability of $150,000 grant for projects that support the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda. Eligible projects include those that conserve, protect and restore fish, wildlife and their habitats; protect and improve water quality; and promote flood hazard mitigation and enhanced flood resiliency. Municipalities and not-for-profit corporations can apply for grant awards ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. More information on the Action Agenda and the Mohawk River Basin program are available on the DEC website.

How to apply:

Grant applications are available online at the New York State Grants Gateway (a direct link is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page). The deadline for applying is 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2015.

Division Webpages

Carpenter Falls
Carpenter Falls

The Division of Water's webpages fall mainly into one of the two following locations:

  • Water Pollution Control - Information, guidance material and forms about the programs the Division of Water administers to control sources of water pollution.
  • Lands and Waters - Water resource information is divided into the following categories:
    • Watersheds, Lakes Rivers: Information on NYS watersheds and other water bodies
    • Oceans & Estuaries: NYS marine and estuary resource information
    • Groundwater: Aquifer and groundwater information & resources
    • Dam Safety, Coastal & Flood Protection: Program information related to flood protection, floodplain development, dam safety, and coastal management
    • Water Supply & Reclamation: Information on protecting New York's public water supplies and drought information

Division's Mission

The Mission of the Division of Water is to protect and conserve the water resources of New York State. This mission is accomplished through a wide range of programs and activities. Some of these are statewide in their scope and apply to all parts of the state. Other efforts are targeted to address water quality and quantity issues in specific regions of the state, focusing on waterbodies or watersheds where these issues are of particular concern. Still other programs target specific contaminants (e.g., mercury) or sources (e.g., stormwater runoff) or impacts (e.g., acid rain) of pollution.

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