Watersheds, Lakes, Rivers
Map of the 17 New York State Watersheds. Click on
the map for additional information and water quality reports.
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a body of water, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, sea or ocean. The watershed includes the network of rivers, streams and lakes that convey the water, as well as the land surfaces from which water runs off. Watersheds are separated from adjacent watersheds by high points, such as mountains, hills, and ridges.
New York State is divided into 17 watersheds, or drainage basins, which are the basis for management, monitoring, and assessment activities. Click on the map to the right for information and assessment reports about New York State watersheds.
New York State is richly endowed with more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, as well as portions of two of the five Great Lakes. These inland waterbodies serve as the drinking water supplies for large cities and small towns throughout the State, provide flood control to protect life and property, and support significant sectors of our economy including recreation, tourism, agriculture, fishing, power generation, and manufacturing. Lakes, ponds and reservoirs also provide habitat for aquatic plant and animal life, and offer recreational opportunities such as swimming, fishing, and boating. The most significant lake resources in the state include the Great Lakes of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, Lake Champlain and the numerous Finger Lakes of central New York State.
New York has thousands of rivers and stream which carry water on to larger waterbodies. Overall, more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams cross the State. The most notable rivers in New York include:
- The Hudson River, designated an American Heritage River
- The Susquehanna River, a large interstate river that empties into the Chesapeake Bay
- The Delaware River, designated a National Wild and Scenic River
- The Saint Lawrence River, the gateway between the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean
- The Niagara River, which connects New York's two Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
More about Watersheds, Lakes, Rivers:
- NYS Watersheds - Descriptions, information and published water quality reports for each of the major watersheds of New York State.
- Water Quality Management Planning Projects - Information about current and past funding available through section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act.
- Watershed Management - Information about the Division of Water coordinates watershed management in a five-step cycle that includes monitoring, assessment, planning & management, implementation & permitting, and compliance & enforcement.
- Mohawk River Watershed Management - Water quality management activities in Mohawk River Basin.
- New York City Watershed Program - Partnership to protect drinking water for New York City.
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed - Information about New York's connection to the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, and the Division of Water's Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program.
- Great Lakes - The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on the earth, and include lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. New York State borders Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
- Onondaga Lake - This page has information about Onondaga Lake's history, pollution sources and cleanup efforts. A list of other DEC webpages with more detailed information about the lake is also included.
- Reservoir Releases - DEC Part 670 Reservoir Releases Regulations (Schoharie Reservoir - Shandaken Tunnel - Esopus Creek), developed pursuant to Title 8 of article 15 of the Environmental Conservation law, were implemented in May 1977. The purpose of these regulations is to regulate the volume and rate of the flow of water from the Schoharie reservoir via the Shandaken tunnel into the Esopus creek to protect and enhance the recreational use of the waters in the creek while ensuring an adequate water supply for New York City.
- Water Reports by County - Reports on waterbodies in New York organized by county
- Water Week - Information about DEC's annual Water Week celebration.
- Meet the Hudson River - An introduction to a river with abundant and diverse natural resources.
- Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers - This page contains a list and description of the river segments designated as either wild, scenic or recreational in New York State.
- Submerged Heritage Preserves Program - Submerged Heritage preserves are historic shipwrecks and other submerged archaeological resources.