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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.

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).

Recent NY-Alert Sewage Spill Reports Now Available on DEC's Website

DEC recently created a new webpage to display the most recent sewage spill reports submitted through NY-Alert. This webpage shows the active reports from the last seven days. To access the full report, click the link in the title of each report to view it on NY-Alert's website.

Past sewage discharge reports submitted through NY-Alert are archived on NY-Alert's website (link leaves DEC website). To learn how to sign up for NY-Alert or for information about New York's Sewage Pollution Right to Know law, please visit DEC's website.

Reminder: Look for the "O" when buying lawn fertilizer

DEC reminds New Yorkers of the state law that limits the use of lawn fertilizers that contain phosphorus. Before buying, check the fertilizer bag for a set of three numbers showing the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Buy a bag with "0" in the middle, indicating that there is no phosphorus in that product. Retailers that sell lawn fertilizers are also reminded that they must display phosphorus fertilizers separately from phosphorus-free fertilizers and to display an educational sign for customers. A new educational sign(PDF, 700 KB) for retailers to use has been posted to DEC's website. To learn about other requirements of the Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law, visit DEC's webpage. The law does not affect 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 environmental and public health.

YouTube Video: Water Quality Sampling Trip to Brooktrout Lake

Watch a clip about a water quality sampling and research trip to Brooktrout Lake and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

The trip in the video is to Brooktrout Lake, which has been studied over time, along with other lakes in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Of particular concern in these lakes is the acidic conditions caused by acid rain. The video is a companion to an article about Brooktrout Lake in the August, 2014, Conservationist magazine. Some acidic lakes in the Adirondacks, such as Brooktrout Lake, are recovering enough to be restocked with fish.

Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda

DEC has released a draft of the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2015-2020 and will be accepting public comments until May 15. The Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda is a six-year blueprint for conserving the Hudson River estuary and its surrounding valley and will build on past projects, partnerships and action plans. More information is available in DEC's April 1st press release.

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 4pwlinfo@dec.ny.gov.
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 Genesee River Basin and the Housatonic River Basin.

Water Week to be Celebrated in New York May 3 - 9 in 2015

Mark your calendars for Water Week, 2015! The theme this year is: "50th Anniversary of the Pure Waters Act". In 1965 New York led the way with the most comprehensive water pollution control program at the time. Over the past five decades, New York's water resources have become cleaner due to the pollution controls put in place and the funding made available to municipalities to protect their waters.

Water Week is a time to celebrate water stewardship, because everybody is needed to help take care of our waters. We encourage you to learn more about our valuable water resources and join the effort to restore, protect and conserve them. If you are already a water steward, invite friends and colleagues to join you!

So, celebrate Water Week with us! To get started, find ideas on DEC's Watershed Stewardship and Local Watershed Association webpages.

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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