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Division of Water

Mark Klotz, Director
Tom Cullen, Assistant Director

a photo of Loon Lake at sunset
Loon Lake at sunset

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.

Topics on this page are advertised via the MakingWaves email list. You can subscribe to MakingWaves and other DEC email lists by visiting DEC's email update webpage. If you already receive updates from DEC, you can manage your subscription on this page too.

Swimming season is around the corner--have fun, stay safe and stay informed

DEC reminds you to visit its swimming webpage to find recommended places to swim, and information about ways to reduce risks to swimming hazards. From this page you can find out which waterbodies have blue-green algae blooms, find out if you live in a community with sewage pollution, and learn how to sign up to have alerts about sewage spills sent to your phone, email or text.

Blue-Green Algal Bloom Notification Season has started for 2015

DEC's blue-green algae notification season has started for 2015. DEC's notification webpage lists waterbodies with a blue-green algae bloom notice and is updated weekly with information collected by DEC's Lake Classification and Inventory Survey and Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program monitoring programs, and reports received from the public.

This week, four waterbodies were posted to the notification list, and blooms were reported in several locations in the state. This information is provided through DEC monitoring programs, volunteers and public reports.
The notification webpage provides general location information, status and extent of the bloom, and type of sample received. The webpage also provides advice on protecting your family and pets from blooms and instructions for reporting a bloom to DEC.

Because waterbodies may have blue-green algae blooms that have not been reported to DEC, we recommend avoiding contact with floating rafts, scums, and discolored water.

Process Begins for 2016 Section 303(d) List

DEC has initiated the process to update the NYS Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters. The 2016 List is to be submitted to USEPA by April 1, 2016. In preparation for the development of the List, DEC has updated its guidance regarding the use of water quality information for conducting assessments and making listing decisions. The Assessment Methodology and Listing Methodology documents are on DEC's Section 303(d) List webpage.

Attend a WQIP or Engineering Planning Grant Workshop

This year, the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) program and the Engineering Planning Grant are both part of the NYS Regional Economic Development Councils Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). Multiple workshops are being held across the state where staff are giving presentations on both these grants at the workshops. A list of workshops can be found on the Governor's website. We encourage you to attend a workshop near you to learn more about the grant programs. Staff will be available to answer your questions. All CFA applications must be completed by July 31, 2015 at 4:00 PM.

Visit the DEC web site to learn more about the WQIP program (link to wqip page). Download the WQIP Round 12 Request for Applications (PDF, 297 KB) from the DEC's website or the New York State Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) 2015 Regional Council Guidebook (leaving DEC website).

Information about the Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grants program can be found on DEC's and the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation's (EFC) websites. Download the Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant Request for Applications (PDF, 178 KB) or the New York State Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) 2015 Regional Council Guidebook for program details.
Applicants must apply for the grant programs through the New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). All CFA applications must be completed by July 31, 2015 at 4:00 PM.

Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program Training Videos

The Division of Water has created a series of ten DEC YouTube instructional videos as part of the volunteer training for the New York Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP). These videos demonstrate the proper techniques for collecting water and algae bloom samples, measuring water clarity, processing water samples, and performing other CSLAP sampling activities.
CSLAP is a nationally-recognized volunteer lake monitoring program conducted by the NYSDEC and the NY Federation of Lake Associations since 1985. More information about CSLAP and the "training materials and sampling form" link can be found on DEC's CSLAP web page.

2014 NYS Section 303(d) List Finalized

EPA completed its review of the 2014 NYS Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters. Following its review of public comments regarding an EPA proposal to add Jones Inlet/Bay to the List for nitrogen, EPA made a final determination to "partially approved/partially disapprove" NYSDEC's proposed List, claiming that the Jones Inlet/Bay listing should have been included. Additional information including NYSDEC's response is available on the NYSDEC website.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Court of Appeals Case

This week the New York State Court of Appeals upheld the 2010 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general permit. The general permit regulates entities that manage or own separate storm sewer systems, ensuring they reduce discharges of pollutants into local waterways to the maximum extent practicable. The ruling affirms that the MS4 permit comports with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.

Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program Grants Available

This year, the WQIP grants are part of the NYS Regional Economic Development Councils Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) (link leaves DEC website) that was announced by Governor Cuomo. The WQIP Round 12 Request for Applications (PDF 297 KB) can be found on the Department website.

WQIP applications are only accepted through the CFA. All CFA applications must be completed by July 31, 2015.

The WQIP program is a competitive reimbursement grant program funded by the Environmental Protection Fund supporting projects that reduce polluted runoff, improve water quality and restore habitat in New York's waterbodies.

Eligible applicants are:

  • Municipalities
  • Soil and water conservation districts
  • Not-for-profit corporations

Eligible projects include:

  • Statewide Nonagricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control
  • Municipal Wastewater TreatmentAquatic Habitat Restoration
  • Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) Phase II Stormwater Implementation

Recipients can be reimbursed up to 75% or 85% of the project costs, depending on the type of project.

Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant Available

Applications are being accepted for the Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grants program, coordinated by DEC and the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation. The grant program is included again in the Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) that was announced by Governor Cuomo (link leaves DEC website).

Up to $2 million will be available for engineering reports for municipalities that need to construct or improve their municipal wastewater system. Individual grants will be up to $100,000 and municipalities must provide a 20% match.

Download the Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant Request for Applications for complete program details.

Other programs available in the Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application initiative

Many other funding programs are included in the funding initiative, including the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grant program. Download the "CFA Resource Manual" from the REDC website (link leaves DEC website) for a complete list. All CFA applications must be completed by July 31, 2015.

The Division of Water Celebrates Water Week

Water Week in New York is May 3 - 9 this year. For the past 30 years, New York has set aside the first full week in May to focus on its abundant water resources, highlight water issues and encourage stewardship. This year's theme is: "50th Anniversary of the Pure Waters Act". New York's Pure Waters Act is the predecessor of the federal Clean Water Act.

Each day, the Division of Water will send a "Special Edition" message to its MakingWaves listserve highlighting a different water-related topic. To subscribe to MakingWaves, go to DEC's homepage and enter your email address in the "Receive Email updates and News from NYSDEC" box. Look for MakingWaves under the "Water" heading.

Celebrate Water Week by joining the effort to restore, protect and conserve our water resources! Find ideas for water-related activities on the Watershed Stewardship 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 Lower Hudson River Basin.

Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Seneca River No Discharge Zone Public Comment Period

At DEC's request, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to designate New York's Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Seneca River as "Vessel Waste No-Discharge Zones" and will accept comments until close of business May 17, 2015.

The Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Seneca River No Discharge Zones are part of DEC's continuing effort to establish No Discharge Zones for all waterbodies and waterways in New York to protect water quality. It is illegal for boaters to discharge on-board sewage into any waterbody designated as a No Discharge Zone.

More information, including instructions for commenting on the proposed NDZ, is in the Federal Register announcement (link leaves DEC website.)

Visit the DEC No Discharge Zones in New York State webpage for an overview of NDZs in New York, including a list of waterbodies currently designated as No Discharge Zones.

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Data Available on Open New York Website

Data about CSOs has been added to the Open New York website. Information is available about the location, receiving waterbody and overflow events. Open New York serves as a single location for local, state and federal data from a wide variety of agencies and programs and is searchable by location or subject. Information about other DOW programs will be added to the site over the coming months. Additional information about CSOs is also available on DEC's CSO Wet Weather Advisory webpage.

What is a CSO?

Some sewer systems were designed to collect storm water runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe and bring it to the publicly owned treatment works facilities. These systems are called combined sewer systems. During rain events, when storm water enters the sewers, the capacity of the sewer system may be exceeded and the excess water will be discharged directly to a waterbody (rivers, streams, estuaries, and coastal waters). This is known as a CSO overflow event. The excess water may contain untreated sewage that can impact human health.

Hudson River Estuary Grants Now Available

DEC has announced the availability of approximately $1.5 million for the 2015 Hudson River Estuary Grants. The grants are provided through two Requests for Applications: Tributary Restoration and Resiliency and Local Stewardship Planning. The Hudson River Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in DEC's 2015 - 2020 Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda. The grants can be used for projects to increase resiliency to cope with flood events, protect water quality, conserve natural resources and restore aquatic habitat. Grant descriptions and applications are available online at the NYS Grants Gateway (link leaves DEC website)

Completed grant applications must be submitted by 2 p.m., June 15, 2015.

More grant information and a link to the Estuary Action Agenda are available on the Hudson River Estuary Grants Program page.

Water Quality Sampling Volunteers Needed!

DEC is actively recruiting people to conduct water quality sampling in streams and rivers for the 2015 Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) summer sampling season. WAVE data is used to augment the work of the DEC Stream Biomonitoring Unit, which samples streams and rivers across the state to create an inventory of stream water quality. This data may be included in federal and state water quality reports and will help target professional assessments and local restoration or conservation efforts in areas where they are most needed. More information is in the WAVE press release.

This year, WAVE training sessions are being offered in the Seneca/Oneida/Oswego, Allegheny, and Upper Hudson River basins. Local Coordinator and basic WAVE training sessions are scheduled for May and June at locations in Warrensburg, Warren County (May 8), Newcomb, Essex County (May 15), Ithaca, Tompkins County (May 22), Jamestown, Chautauqua County (May 28), Syracuse, Onondaga County (June 5), Salamanca, Cattaraugus County (June 11), Waterloo, Seneca County (June 19), Ballston Spa, Saratoga County (June 26). For more information or to register for a training session, contact WAVE Coordinator Alene Onion by email: wave@dec.ny.gov.

New Look for the Zero brochure posted to DEC's website

DEC has posted a new "Look for the Zero" brochure on its Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law web page. The tri-fold brochure (PDF, 1.47 MB) explains how and why to buy phosphorus-free lawn fertilizers to protect our waters. The runoff of excess phosphorus into our waters will be greatly reduced if everyone who fertilizes their lawn uses phosphorus-free fertilizer (unless a new lawn is being established or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus). Too much phosphorus can cause algae overgrowth in freshwater lakes and ponds, with serious impacts to the environment and public health. The information in the brochure is also available in a two-page fact sheet (PDF, 1.57 MB).

Articles about Water by Division of Water Staff

Division of Water employees regularly write articles for the magazine Clearwaters, the quarterly publication of the New York Water Environment Association. The DOW Library webpage webpage houses these, and other, water-related articles written by DOW staff and others in DEC.

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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