Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It is home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals and produces nearly 500 million pounds of seafood per year. The Bay's watershed covers portions of six states and Washington, D.C.
- Area: 64,000 square miles including portions of 6 states (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) and Washington, D.C.
- New York area: 6,250 square miles in 19 counties
- Population: More than 17 million people live in the watershed
- New York population: About 640,000 people live in New York's portion of the Bay watershed
- Source: The Susquehanna and Chemung rivers in New York form the northern headwaters of the Bay
New York's Connection to the Chesapeake Bay
The New York portion of the Chesapeake
Bay watershed. Click for a larger map.
New York's portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is made up of the Susquehanna River watershed and Chemung River watershed. Together these two watersheds form the northern headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay and cover much of New York's Southern Tier.
The Susquehanna River begins at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York and flows 444 miles south to the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The Chemung River flows across the western portion of the Southern Tier and joins the Susquehanna River in northern Pennsylvania.
In total, some or all of 19 New York counties are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Livingston, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Otsego, Schoharie, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates.
Water Quality Problems and Solutions
Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment from all over the Chesapeake Bay watershed degrade the Bay's water quality. The main nutrient sources are sewage, cattle manure, inorganic fertilizer and atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Most of the sediment comes from agriculture, stream bank erosion and construction.
The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) defines the capacity of a waterbody to absorb a pollutant and still meet water quality standards. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL sets limits on the amount of nutrients and sediment that can enter the Bay and allow it to meet water quality goals.
The Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay TMDL in December 2010 to address the water quality problems in the Chesapeake Bay.
A Plan to Improve Water Quality
All 6 states (and Washington, D.C.) in the Bay watershed are developing and implementing Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) that describe how each state will meet the nutrient and sediment limits outlined in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
Development of New York's Watershed Implementation Plan
To develop New York's plan, DEC worked closely with the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition (the USC represents 16 New York and 3 Pennsylvania counties in the Chesapeake Bay watershed).
- January 2013 -- New York submitted its Final Phase II WIP with cover letter from DEC Commissioner Martens (PDF, 3.6 MB)
- December 2010 -- New York submitted its Final Phase I WIP (PDF, 3.0 MB)
More About New York and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL
More information about the Chesapeake Bay and our effort in New York can be obtained from the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition. For more about the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, visit EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL webpage. Links to these websites are in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page.
Funding Opportunities for Organizations in New York's Portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
We have developed a list of funding opportunities (PDF, 151 KB) for which organizations in New York's portion of the Bay watershed may be eligible. The list has information about funding programs that we know about. If you know of a program that is not on our list, please contact us.
DEC Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program Contact Information
Jacqueline Lendrum, Program Coordinator
Email Jacqueline Lendrum
More about Chesapeake Bay Watershed:
- Map of New York's Portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed - Large map of New York's portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.