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Water Week

New York Celebrates Water Week

Water Week is May 5 - 11 in 2019. For over 35 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.
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Help protect, restore and conserve New York's waters for the future! Celebrating Water Week by holding an event or conducting an activity has become a tradition for many people, organizations and schools. Find ideas for water-related activities on the Watershed Stewardship webpage.

Visit the links in the right column of this page to learn more about current water-related issues, including phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer, citizen water quality sampling, harmful algal blooms and sewage spill notifications.

Communities can apply for grants now available through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) (leaves DEC website) to undertake activities to help restore and protect their water resources. The Division of Water has three grant opportunities listed in the CFA: Water Quality Improvement Project grants, Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grants, and Non-Agricultural Nonpoint Source Planning Grants. Watch for information about these grants in upcoming MakingWaves announcements.

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

2017 Water Week MakingWaves Special Editions

2016 Water Week MakingWaves Special Editions

New York has Lakes of All Sizes

Did you Know?

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a lake or pond in New York State. However, the Division of Water commonly uses 7,850 as the number of lakes, reservoirs and ponds in the state. This includes over 3,000 larger named lakes (over 6.4 acres), about 500 larger unnamed ponds, and about 4,300 smaller named and unnamed waterbodies of some significance that have been included into the official count.

  • DEC conducts water quality sampling and evaluates these waterbodies primarily through two monitoring programs:
  • Monitoring data collected through these programs is used to develop and implement lake management plans.
  • The Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List (WI/PWL) is a compilation of water quality information for all individual waterbodies assessed in the state. The WI/PWL groups lake waterbodies into 2,100 assessment segments that cover nearly 690,000 acres (not including the two New York Great Lakes).
Learn More about New York's Lakes

DEC's routine statewide monitoring programs

  • NYS Section 305(b) Water Quality Report, which describes the quality of all water resources in the state and whether these waters are fully supporting water supply use, recreation activities and aquatic life
  • NYS Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters, including the draft 2016 list

Reservoirs and Created Lakes

Did you know?

In New York, most lakes are man-made waterbodies, created by the over 5,000 dams in the state. Most dams are relatively small structures used primarily for agricultural purposes; whereas, larger reservoirs are used primarily for water supply.

  • Most reservoirs are not intended to provide flood control. They are designed to remain largely full, reserving water for later uses. However, reservoirs can and do provide some flood protection benefits, because even when full, they reduce downstream peak flow rates during large runoff events.
  • While reservoirs are useful for a variety of purposes, they alter natural stream flow, which can impact wildlife habitat or public recreational uses. New York's reservoir release regulations allow for recreational uses, such as trout fishing and canoeing, in waters below the reservoir while ensuring an adequate supply of water for power production or water supply.
  • The owners of dams are responsible for maintaining and operating the dam in a safe condition at all times. DEC provides information for dam owners on its Dam Safety webpage.
Learn more about New York's reservoirs and created lakes

Water Quality of Lakes

Did you know?

The majority of lakes and ponds in New York support swimming, fishing, and other recreational uses. However, some lakes are affected by water quality concerns that can prevent or limit recreational activities. Aquatic invasive species and harmful algal blooms have been around for a long time, but they are getting worse and may represent the largest threat to New York State lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

  • DEC and its partners are implementing a number of initiatives to address aquatic invasive species, including: preventing them from entering lakes and ponds with boat stewardship programs; prohibiting the worst of these exotic species from being sold or transported in New York; and sponsoring very active volunteer monitoring programs to detect and respond to foreign species before the invasions are too advanced to manage.
  • To address harmful algal blooms, DEC: works with researchers to understand the cause of blooms; supports extensive professional and volunteer monitoring programs to find and verify blooms; notifies the public about the location and extent of blooms to help protect recreational users; and implements public educational programs.
  • Many water quality concerns are the result of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, reaching lakes from urban stormwater runoff, septic systems and agricultural runoff. New York is developing strategies to reduce the amount of nutrients entering our waters. Examples include: restricting the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, urban stormwater controls, and erosion control measures.
Learn more about water quality in NY's lakes

Top Water Quality Issues, the ten most prevalent causes/sources of water quality impacts/impairments in the assessed waters of New York State.

Clean Water Plans for Lake Management

Did you know?

Clean water plans are watershed-based strategies to improve or protect water quality. Examples of clean water plans are: Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and Nine Key Element Watershed Plans.

  • Clean water plans that involve stakeholders from every community within the watershed are a very effective way to protect and restore lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.
  • TMDLs and watershed plans have been completed for many waterbodies in New York State and can be accessed on DEC's Clean Water Plans webpage.
  • DEC is implementing a new approach to addressing the water quality issues in identified lakes, rivers and streams on the Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters. This new approach is described in a document recently posted to DEC's website entitled, the Vision Approach to Implement Clean Water Act 303(d) Program and Clean Water Planning (PDF). This document describes New York's adaptive strategy to prioritize waterbodies for the development of clean water plans based on the state's identified priority concerns: nutrients, pathogens and public use.
Learn more about clean water plans

Clean Water Plans, an overview of why they are needed and the different types of plans

Stewardship of NY's Lakes

Did you know?

New York is fortunate to have many lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and they: provide drinking water; provide flood control to protect life and property; support recreation, tourism, agriculture, fishing, power generation, and manufacturing; and provide habitat for aquatic plant and animal life.

  • Lakes are managed through programs that plan and implement activities to protect, restore, and conserve the water. These efforts vary in scope, with some programs encompassing entire or multiple drainage basins, such as for the Great Lakes. Other programs are more locally focused on a smaller waterbody within a larger area.
  • Many organizations, associations, local governments, other state agencies, and individuals work with the DEC to protect and restore NY's lakes. These partnerships are vital to the stewardship of our lakes.
Learn more about water stewardship

We all live in a watershed! Become a watershed steward