A beach on Lake Erie
About 80 percent of New York's fresh surface water, over 700 miles of shoreline, and 40 percent of New York's land area expanding over 33 counties are contained in the drainage basins of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River. Sustaining life, providing recreation, and supporting local and regional economies, the Great Lakes are a true natural legacy to the people of New York.
DEC works with many organizations on cross-cutting programs to help protect, restore, conserve, and enhance the water quality and natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin. Some of these organizations can be found in the Great Lakes Directory (PDF, 289 KB).
No harmful algae blooms that have been identified in the waters of western Lake Erie have affected New York State drinking water and bathing beaches. Monitoring and surveillance of the New York portions of Lake Erie, as well as the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, have revealed no such blooms. More information about HABs can be found on the DEC HABs webpage, which includes an overview of HABs and drinking water concerns, including concerns about Lake Erie (PDF, 170 KB).
Water Quantity Management
(View Larger Image)
NYS Great Lakes Basin Map
Water quantity management affects key human activities, including drinking water supplies, flood protection, navigation, power generation, agriculture, and recreation as well as elements of the ecosystem, including wetlands and other habitats. Pursuant to adoption of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (PDF, 91 KB) and Regional Agreement, New York is working with other Great Lakes states and provinces to implement a water withdrawal management system and decision-making process that will ensure sustainable quantities of Great Lakes Basin water for generations to come. This Great Lakes Basin water management system consists of regional agreements and information systems. New York has current procedures for registering and permitting water withdrawals.
Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy
The Governors of the Great Lakes States identified priorities for restoring and protecting the Great Lakes, supported by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the Great Lakes Commission, and other groups committed to the preservation of the Great Lakes. President George W. Bush signed executive order 13340 on May 18, 2004, acknowledging the national significance of the Great Lakes and helping establish a "Great Lakes Regional Collaboration." The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration convened in Chicago, Illinois, on December 3, 2004 and included representatives of the federal government, the Great Lakes States, the Great Lakes Cities, the Tribes and the Region's Congressional delegation.
More recently, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was developed and is the largest federal investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. A task force of 11 federal agencies developed a plan to put the historic initiative into action. This action plan covers fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and addresses five urgent focus areas:
- Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern
- Combating invasive species
- Promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off
- Restoring wetlands and other habitats
- Working with partners on outreach
There is also a list of completed and ongoing projects funded by GLRI agencies in or for New York.
Be Green in the Great Lakes Project
Be Green in the Great Lakes is a project conducted by DEC's Division of Materials Management and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The Be Green in the Great Lakes project focuses on outreach and education for the general public and land care businesses regarding options to using conventional synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. The first step of this project is a public survey of current lawn care practices used by residents and land care businesses. A link to the survey site is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page. For more information visit DEC's Be Green in the Great Lakes project webpage.
Great Lakes Action Agenda
DEC's Great Lakes Program has worked with stakeholders throughout the basin to develop a new, fully integrated action plan that guides restoration and conservation activities in New York's Great Lakes region. This action plan, or Great Lakes Action Agenda, is a multi-agency, multi-program, and cross-region strategic plan to support innovative programs and build new partnerships at multiple levels of local, state, and federal government across the state's Great Lakes basin.
The plan identifies high priority actions and focuses federal and state funding opportunities to address the most critical challenges unique to this region, including contamination clean-up, restoration of fish and wildlife, waterfront and economic development, climate change resiliency strategies, and recreation and tourism development. This interim action plan serves as a useful tool that communities and organizations can use to plan projects, leverage capacity, and secure funding for projects that support relevant management plans and New York's shared vision for the conservation, restoration, and protection of our Great Lakes basin. Visit DEC's Great Lakes Action Agenda webpage for more information.
Receive Great Lakes email notifications
If you would like to receive email updates and news related to the Great Lakes and New York, subscribe to GovDelivery by entering your email address.
This will take you to the "Quick Subscription" page where you will see all the topics that you can receive email updates on from DEC. Scroll to the "Lakes and Rivers" category and check the box next to "Great Lakes". You will receive a welcome email confirming your subscription(s).
Lakewide Action and Management Plans
Satellite image of Lake Erie (below, left)
and Lake Ontario (above, right)
In 1987, the governments of the United States and Canada committed to develop and implement Lakewide Management Plans (LaMP) for the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. In 2012, the name of these plans was changed to Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMP).
The LAMPs guide the work of U.S. and Canadian government agencies to reduce the amounts of contaminants entering the lakes and to address causes of lakewide problems. DEC, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and many regional and local governments, industry, and public interest organizations work together to achieve the goals of the LAMPs.
Copies of the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario LAMPs and related reports are available on EPA's website. Direct links are in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page. More information is also available on DEC's Lake Ontario LAMP webpage.
Areas of Concern
Areas of Concern (AOC) are geographic areas around the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded. In 1987, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement designated 43 AOCs in the U.S. and Canada as a way to focus clean up work on these areas. Of the 43 AOCs, 26 are in the U.S., 12 are in Canada, and 5 are shared by both countries. New York State has 6 Areas of Concern: Buffalo River, Eighteenmile Creek, Rochester Embayment, Oswego River/Harbor, Niagara River, and St. Lawrence River at Massena. Visit DEC's Areas of Concern webpage for more information.
New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund
The New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund is a funding source for research and field assessment projects that protect, restore and improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem in New York. The Fund supports projects between government, academia, non-governmental and environmental groups to conduct research and exchange/apply information about remediating and sustaining the health of the plant, animal and human elements of New York's Great Lakes ecosystem.
More about Great Lakes :
- Areas of Concern - Areas of Concern are geographic areas around the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded. Six AOCs were designated in New York.
- Great Lakes Action Agenda - The Great Lakes Action Agenda is a draft plan to support programs and partnerships that support conservation, restoration and protection of New York's Great Lakes basin.
- Great Lakes Projects - List of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funded projects in New York State.
- Great Lakes Water Withdrawal & Registration - Great Lakes Water Withdrawal Registration Program
- Great Lakes Water Quantity Management - Strategies for achieving sustainable water use
- Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council - Advising New York State's decision-makers on issues involving the Great Lakes
- Lake Ontario Lakewide Action and Management Plan - The Lake Ontario Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) guides restoration and protection activities of DEC and other participating federal, state, provincial, and tribal organizations.
- New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund - Supporting research to protect and conserve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem in New York State
- Map of New York's Great Lakes Basin - Map showing the Great Lakes basin, or watershed, in New York.