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Clean Water Plans

Clean water plans are a watershed-based approach to outline a strategy to improve or protect water quality in a waterbody. These plans document the pollution sources, pollutant reduction goals, and strategies that communities may use to improve water quality.

Why are Clean Water Plans needed?

All waterbodies in New York are classified for their best uses: public water supply, swimming, recreation, and fish reproduction. Water quality standards protect these uses; water quality standards have been established for many specific substances and may be numeric (e.g., 0.001 ug/L) or narrative ("none in amounts that will impair..."). DEC assesses waterbodies on a 5-year cycle to evaluate whether waterbodies are meeting their best uses. The data collected through DEC lake and river monitoring programs also establish baseline conditions, identify water quality problems, document good water quality and is used to measure restoration and protection activities. Assessments for waterbodies are posted on the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List webpage.

The Clean Water Act Section 303(d) requires states to identify waterbodies that are not fully supporting their best uses. These waterbodies are then listed on the Clean Water Act 303(d) "impaired waters" list. Waterbodies may have been identified as impaired due to fish consumption advisories, shellfishing closures, public bathing beach closures, or sampling results (high nutrient levels, turbidity, toxic sediments). This list is updated every 2 years and is open for public comment.

Map of impaired waterbodies on 2012 Clean Water Act 303(d) list
Waterbodies that do not meet water quality standards are listed
on the Clean Water Act 303(d) list.

The Clean Water Act also requires states to develop total maximum daily load plans (TMDLs) for waterbodies on the 303(d) list to reduce the amount of pollutants entering impaired waterbodies to meet water quality standards. TMDL plans may also be developed to protect waterbodies from becoming impaired. For example, protecting public drinking water supplies to protect human health.

DEC has identified nutrients and pathogens and public use as priority concerns. Relevant data (e.g., public health and access, community involvement, and ecological importance) and monitoring data collected through DEC monitoring programs was used to prioritize waterbodies on the 303(d) list for the development of a TMDL or other clean water plan. This information is used to develop DEC's TMDL work plan that is submitted to EPA. DEC's adaptive strategy is documented in Vision Approach to Implement Clean Water Act 303(d) Program and Clean Water Planning (PDF, 832 KB).

What is a TMDL?

A TMDL is a type of clean water plan for a waterbody. A TMDL calculates the maximum amount of a single pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards. TMDLs are developed by determining the amount that each source of a pollutant can discharge into the waterbody and the reductions from those sources needed to meet water quality standards.

Another type of clean water plan is a Nine Element (9E) Watershed Plan. Similar to TMDLs, 9E Plans, require pollutant sources to be identified and quantified, pollutant reductions goals established, and an implementation plan developed (e.g., how to achieve reductions, tracking progress, and monitoring water quality improvements). More information about 9E plans is on the Nine Element Watershed Plan webpage.

Picture showing different pollutants that can enter the waterway
TMDL and other clean water plans identify and
quantify all the sources of pollution to a waterbody.
Pollutant sources may include:
TMDLs and other clean water plan documents include:
  • Watershed information (land uses: urban, forest, agriculture, etc..)
  • Water quality data (monitoring data)
  • Rainfall data
  • Land topography and soil data
  • Waterbody characteristics
  • Water quality target(s) for the waterbody
  • How much of the pollutant the waterbody can accept and still meet water quality standards
  • Amount each pollutant source is contributing to the waterbody (load)
  • Actions needed to achieve the water quality goals for that waterbody (e.g. sewering homes, aquatic plant management, permit enforcement, lake management, and agricultural best management practices).

TMDLs account for all contributing sources (e.g. point & nonpoint sources, and natural background levels), seasonal variations in the pollutant load, and incorporate a margin of safety that accounts for unknown or unexpected sources of the pollutant.

Community involvement

Engaging the watershed community is an important part of this process. In order to develop a successful plan, DEC needs to understand how the lake is used, what the issues are, and what has been done to improve the lake so far. For information about waterbodies with plans in development, visit the Clean Water Plans public participation webpage.

The process to develop a clean water plan

  • Identify pollutant loads and sources
  • Engage the watershed community
  • Develop an implementation plan (outlines how the loads will be reduced from each pollutant source)
  • Draft document
  • Public comment (required for TMDL) or public review of the draft document
  • Final approval

Which waterbodies have Clean Water Plans?

TMDLs and watershed plans have been completed for many waterbodies in New York State. The following list has information on TMDLs for specific waterbodies. As appropriate, DEC will create separate webpages for specific waterbodies.

Adirondack Acid Rain/Waters/pH

Impaired Waters Restoration Plan for Acid Rain Lakes in NYS Forest Preserve: TMDL for pH (PDF), September 2006, NYSDEC (580 KB)

Adirondack Acid Rain/Waters/Acid Neutralizing Capacity

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Acid Impaired Lakes in the Adirondack Park (PDF) , September 2014, NYSDEC (3.6 MB)

Appendices for Acid Impaired Lakes in the Adirondack Park:

Black Creek/Bigelow Creek/Phosphorus

Draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Phosphorus in Upper Black Creek and Bigelow Creek (PDF), September 2013, NYSDEC (2.6 MB)

Chautauqua Lake

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Phosphorus in Chautauqua Lake (PDF), November 2012, NYSDEC (1.9 MB)

Greenwood Lake/Phosphorus

Impaired Waters Restoration Plan for Greenwood Lake: TMDL for Phosphorus (PDF), September 2005, NYSDEC (774 KB)

Long Island Sound/Dissolved Oxygen

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Analysis to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Dissolved Oxygen in Long Island Sound (PDF), December 2000, NYSDEC and CTDEP (PDF 259 KB)

Response to Public Comments - Long Island Sound Dissolved Oxygen TMDL (PDF), January 2001, NYSDEC (PDF 133 KB)

Long Island/Pathogens (Shellfishing)

Shellfish Pathogen TMDL for 27 Section 303(d)-Listed Waters (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC, et al. (909 KB)

Shellfish Pathogen TMDL, Attachment A - Waterbody Maps (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC, et al. (Full Document is 23 MB and may be difficult to view/download; see below to view/download smaller portions of this PDF document)

Shellfish Pathogen TMDL, Attachment B - Assumptions and Methods (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC, et al. (266 KB)

Response to Public Comments - Shellfish Pathogen TMDL (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC (36 KB)

Lake Champlain/Phosphorus

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Analysis to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Phosphorus in Lake Champlain (PDF), September 2002, NYSDEC and VTDEC (362 KB)

Lake Ontario PCB TMDL

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Ontario PCB (PDF), July 2011, NYSDEC (920 KB)

New York City Water Supply Watershed/Phosphorus

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Analysis to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Phosphorus in New York City Water Supply Reservoirs - Final Phase II (PDF), June 2000, NYSDEC (172 KB)

Response to Public Comments - Phase II NYC Watershed Phosphorus TMDL (PDF), June 2000, NYSDEC (172 KB)

Nonpoint Source Implementation - Phase II NYC Watershed Phosphorus TMDL (PDF), March 2002, NYSDEC (203 KB)

Nonpoint Source Implementation - Phase II NYC Watershed Phosphorus TMDL (PDF), April 2001, NYSDEC and NYCDEP (1 MB)

Croton Watershed Phase II Phosphorus TMDL Implementation Plan (PDF), January 14, 2009, NYSDEC (552 KB)

Croton Watershed Phase II TMDL Implementation Plan Comment Responsiveness Summary (PDF), January 15, 2009 NYSDEC (95 KB)

Technical Background For Retrofitting Practices (PDF), January 14, 2009, NYSDEC (142 KB)

Northeast Regional Mercury TMDL

Northeast Regional Mercury Total Maximum Daily Load (PDF), October 24, 2007, NYSDEC in collaboration with NEIWPCC (806 KB)

Onondaga Lake

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Phosphorus in Onondaga Lake (PDF), May 2012, NYSDEC (3.4 MB)

Amendment of the Total Maximum Daily Load for Ammonia in Onondaga Lake (PDF), January 2013, NYSDEC (138kB)

Oyster Bay/Pathogens

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Analysis to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Pathogens in Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek (PDF), September 2003, NYSDEC (Full Document 4.5 MB; may be difficult to download, see below to download smaller portions of this PDF document)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Text Only (PDF), no figures (368 KB)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Figures 1-4 (PDF), (1.1 MB)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Figures 5-7 (PDF), (940 KB)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Figures 8-15 (PDF), (967 KB)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Figures 16-21 (PDF), (800 KB)

Oyster Bay/Mill Neck Creek Pathogens TMDL - Figures 22-27 (PDF), (394 KB)

Peconic Bay/Pathogens

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Analysis to Achieve Water Quality Standards for Pathogens in Peconic Bay (PDF), September 2006, NYSDEC (Full Document 3.25 MB; may be difficult to download, see below to download smaller portions of this document)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Exec Summ/Table of Content (PDF) (147 KB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Introduction (PDF) (251 KB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Section 2: Problem Identification (PDF) (1.0 MB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Section 3-4 (PDF): Applicable Standards, Water Quality/Watershed Characterization (228 KB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Section 5-6: Source Assessment, Modeling Approach (PDF) (162 KB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Section 7: Load Allocation (PDF) (317 KB)

Peconic Bay Pathogens TMDL - Section 8-11 and attachments: Implementation, Reasonable Assurance, Public Participation and References (PDF) (186 KB)

Peconic Estuary/Nitrogen

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Nitrogen in the Peconic Estuary Study Area (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC (Full Document 3.57 MB PDF; may be difficult to download, see below to download smaller portions of this document)

Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL - Section I-IV: Executive Summary, Introduction, Waterbody Description, Applicable Standards (PDF), CWA 303(d) Listing (860 KB)

Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL - Section V-VI: TMDL Development, TMDL/WLAs/LAs (PDF), (598 KB)

Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL - Section VII-XIII: Implementation, Reasonable Assurance, Public Participation (PDF), (117 KB)

Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL - Appendix A: Cumulative Impact Graphics (PDF), (1,295 KB)

Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL - Appendices B and C (PDF), (953 KB)

Response to Public Comments - Peconic Estuary Nitrogen TMDL (PDF), September 2007, NYSDEC (413 KB)

Small Lakes/Phosphorus

Basic Creek Reservoir

TMDL for Phosphorus in Basic Creek Reservoir (PDF), (2.25 MB), March 2013, NYSDEC

Bear Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Bear Lake (PDF), (1.78 MB), February 2015, NYSDEC

TMDL for Phosphorus in Bear Lake - Appendices (PDF), (938 KB), February 2015, NYSDEC

Blind Sodus Bay

TMDL for Phosphorus in Blind Sodus Bay (PDF), (704 KB) September 2007, NYSDEC

TMDL for Phosphorus in Blind Sodus Bay - Appendices (PDF), (1 MB), September 2007, NYSDEC

Buck, Long and Cranberry Ponds

TMDL for Phosphorus in Buck, Long and Cranberry Ponds - DRAFT (PDF), July 2010, NYSDEC (Full Document 6.07 MB; may be difficult to download, see below to download smaller portions of this document)

TMDL for Phosphorus in Buck, Long and Cranberry Ponds - DRAFT, without Appendices (PDF), (3.26 MB)

TMDL for Phosphorus in Buck, Long and Cranberry Ponds - DRAFT, Appendices A thru D (PDF), (2.91 MB)

Cossayuna Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Cossayuna Lake (PDF), (3.03 MB), September 2008, NYSDEC

Findley Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Findley Lake (PDF), (2.88 MB), September 2008, NYSDEC

Java Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Java Lake, (PDF), (2.22 MB), May 2013, NYSDEC

Kinderhook Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Kinderhook Lake (PDF), (3 MB), August 2011, NYSDEC

TMDL for Phosphorus in Kinderhook Lake (PDF), (3.5 MB), September 15 2011, NYSDEC

Lake Carmel

DRAFT TMDL for Phosphorus in Lake Carmel (PDF) , (2.6 MB), June 2016, NYSDEC

Lake Oscawana

TMDL for Phosphorus in Lake Oscawana (PDF), (2.45 MB), September 2008, NYSDEC

Lake Salubria

TMDL for Phosphorus in Lake Salubria (PDF), (2.24 MB), - July 2009, NYSDEC

Little Sodus Bay

TMDL for Phosphorus in Little Sodus Bay (PDF), (659 KB), September 2007, NYSDEC

TMDL for Phosphorus in Little Sodus Bay - Appendices (PDF), (985 KB)September 2007, NYSDEC

Moon Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Moon Lake (PDF), (649 KB) September 2007, NYSDEC

TMDL for Phosphorus in Moon Lake - Appendices (PDF), (963 KB), September 2007, NYSDEC

Palmer Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Palmer Lake (PDF), (1.28 MB), March 2015, NYSDEC

Peach Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Peach Lake (PDF), (2.12 MB), September 2009, NYSDEC

Port Bay

TMDL for Phosphorus in Port Bay (PDF), (2.0 MB), April 2011, NYSDEC

Silver Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Silver Lake (PDF), (3.6 MB), September 2010, NYSDEC

Snyders Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Snyders Lake - DRAFT (PDF), (2.5 MB), July 2009, NYSDEC

Summit Lake

TMDL for Phosphorus in Summit Lake (PDF), (1.9 MB), September 2009, NYSDEC, Appendix 7 Load-response plots for scenarios involving reductions in atmospheric SO42-, NO3- and NH4+ deposition


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