D E C banner
D E C banner


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Water Week

New York Celebrates Water Week

Water Week is May 3 - 9 in 2015. For the past 30 years, New York has set aside the first full week in May to focus on its abundant water resources, highlight water issues and encourage stewardship. This year's theme is: "50th Anniversary of the Pure Waters Act". New York's Pure Waters Act is the predecessor of the federal Clean Water Act.

Each day, the Division of Water will send a "Special Edition" message to its MakingWaves listserve highlighting a different water-related topic. On this page, you can learn how to participate and join the celebration!

Photo of a lake and creek.
Help protect,restore and conserve New York's waters for the future!

Water Week Special Edition MakingWaves topics are:

New York Led the Way in 1965 - Monday

Federal Clean Water Act - Tuesday

Achievements in New York since the Pure Waters Bond Act Was Passed - Wednesday

Remaining Work to be Done - Thursday

Waters Stewardship - Friday

If you are not already receiving MakingWaves, we encourage you to subscribe via the box below. In addition to the Water Week Special Edition messages, you can expect to receive an email from this listserve once a week informing you about new and important water-related issues, events, and releases.

Receive Water Week Updates and News from NYSDEC

DEC now offers email updates on over 135 topics, including a number of water and outdoor recreation areas. To sign up for emails for MakingWaves, outdoor recreation, or other interests of your choice, please enter your email address below.

If you want to see past MakingWaves information, go to the Division of Water homepage. MakingWaves announcements are posted for approximately 30 days.

Join the Celebration!

Celebrating Water Week by holding an event or conducting an activity has become a tradition for many people. Anytime is a good time to celebrate our valuable water resources! Find ideas for water-related activities on the Watershed Stewardship webpage.

New York Led the Way in 1965

Did you know?

Governor Rockefeller first outlined the Pure Waters Program in 1964 with a bold proposal that the people of New York State spend $1 billion, possibly more, to clean up their lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. In November, 1965, New Yorkers voted four to one to approve the billion dollar bond issue. This approval launched the largest and most comprehensive water pollution control program in the world. To put this in perspective, today $1 billion would be equal to $7.5 billion. New York's Pure Waters Program laid the groundwork for the federal Clean Water Act that was adopted in 1972.

Test your water knowledge (find answers below)

1) In 1965, what department was given the "responsibility for carrying out the people's mandate to cleanse the waters of the Empire State"?

2) What was the billion dollars primarily used for?

Federal Clean Water Act

Did you know?

  • New York's 1965 Pure Waters Act laid the groundwork for the Federal Clean Water Act.
  • The 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act recast it into its modern form. This legislation: 1) set up the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program (NPDES); 2) focused on technology-based standards for point sources, and 3) provided a massive grant-in-aid program for sewage treatment plant construction.
  • The 1972 amendments set an interim goal of providing for the "protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provide for recreation in and on the water". The shorthand expression for this goal became, "fishable/swimmable".
  • In 1977, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act was extensively amended and renamed the Clean Water Act (CWA).
  • To fulfill its responsibilities under the CWA, the Division of Water uses a watershed management approach for many of its water protection and restoration efforts.

Test your water knowledge (find answers below)

3) In what year was the CWA amended to include the control of nonpoint sources of pollution?

4) In what year was New York State authorized to issue permits through the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES)?

Learn more about protecting and conserving water resources

Answers for "Test your water knowledge" above :

1) The State Health Department, which created the Division of Pure Waters, was the first department responsible for implementing the Pure Waters Program and 1965 Bond Act. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation was not established until July 1, 1970.

2) The 1965 Bond Act was used primarily for the construction of municipal waste treatment facilities.

3) The 1987 federal amendments required states to identify nonpoint sources of pollution and develop plans for control of them. In 1989, NYS signed legislation to safeguard waters of the state "by controlling and abating new and existing sources of nonpoint source pollution".

4) SPDES was established in 1973 under Article 12 of the Navigation Law (now Article 17 of the Environmental Conservation Law).