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Water Week

New York Celebrates Water Week

Water Week is a time to think about how fortunate we are for the state's abundant water resources and how we can all help protect, restore and conserve it. Water Week is May 4 - 10 in 2014 and the theme is "Water Recreation in New York". The Division of Water will celebrate Water Week by sending a "Special Edition" message to its MakingWaves listserve highlighting a different water-related topic each day.

Child playing in the water at a regulated swimming beach.
Celebrate water! Get out there and have fun!

Water Week topics on this page:

Division of Water's Connection to Water Recreation in New York

Swimming in Waters of New York State

Boating in Waters of New York State

Fishing in New York State

Watershed Stewardship for Recreation

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.

Division of Water's Connection to Water Recreation in New York

New York is rich with clean water for swimming, boating and fishing due, in large part, to the protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years.

Did you know?

In addition to the DEC, there are many organizations and associations protecting and restoring waterbodies so that people have clean water for recreation. Their work is often completed in conjunction with a watershed management plan.

NYSDEC has been involved in developing and implementing watershed management strategies for the following watersheds:

The NYSDEC has funded hundreds of projects over the past 40 years that directly improve the water quality in New York. Through competitive processes, funding goes to projects to improve wastewater treatment systems, address stormwater pollution, reduce nonpoint sources of pollution, and improve aquatic habitat. The selected projects help address watershed plan priorities and make the water cleaner for water recreation.

The Division of Water (DOW) maintains watershed-wide water quality reports such as the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List, Section 305(b) Water Quality Report, and Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters . These reports are the result of the annual health assessments and help the DOW prioritize protection and restoration activities.

Learn more about water recreation and watershed management in New York:

  • Help keep our water resources clean for water recreation by helping your local watershed association. Click on "Surf Your Watershed".
  • Learn more about Division of Water programs for watershed management
  • Find ideas for outdoor recreation opportunities in New York on DEC's website
  • Find places to go that are operated by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. A direct link is in "Links leaving DEC's website" in the right hand column.

Swimming in Waters of New York State

Swimming in lakes, rivers and at ocean beaches is a popular summer activity, but people should use common sense about safety if the location is not a regulated public swimming area.

Did you know?

If swimming at other than a regulated bathing beach, DEC has resources to help you make informed decisions about places to swim so that you can avoid potential hazards.

  • Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae, such as blue green algae, can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. To learn what blue-green algae looks like and what to do if you see it, visit DEC's blue-green harmful algal blooms webpage.
  • Facilities with permitted combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges are required by law to post signs at all CSO outfalls to alert the public that the water released from CSOs may be contaminated with untreated sewage following rainfall or snowmelt events and may contain bacteria that can cause illness. Avoid contact with or recreating in (swimming, boating, and fishing) within the waterbody during or following a rainfall or snowmelt event.
  • The Sewage Pollution Right to Know law, enacted in 2013, requires that discharges of untreated and partially treated sewage discharges are reported by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) within two hours of discovery to DEC and within four hours of discovery to the public and adjoining municipalities. To view sewage discharge reports go to: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/90321.html. This information will help you avoid contact with waterbodies that may contain bacteria that can cause illness.

Learn more about swimming in New York:

  • DEC has posted a new webpage on swimming in waters of NYS
  • Many of the DEC owned campgrounds include regulated swimming beaches
  • The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation offers bathing beaches and pools at many of its parks. A direct link is in "Links leaving DEC's website" in the right hand column.
  • Department of Health monitors regulated beaches; for information about regulated swimming beaches, contact your local health department. A direct link is in "Links leaving DEC's website" in the right hand column.

Boating in Waters of New York State

Boating in motor boats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, etc. is a popular three season activity in NY's rivers, lakes and oceans. For boating safety and to keep the environment clean, boaters should be informed about the waterbody they boat in and be a good environmental steward.

Did you know?

Boats, trailers, waders and other fishing and boating equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody unless properly cleaned, dried or disinfected after use. Although some invasive species such as water milfoil are visible to the human eye, many others are too small to be readily noticed. You can prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by following the guidance on DEC's webpage.

Many rivers have low head dams where recreational activities are conducted. These structures, which can be as low as one foot high, extend across rivers and creeks for the purpose of impounding and regulating flows. They can create a unique hazard to boaters because of the reverse flow condition produced when sufficient water is flowing over the structure. This reverse flow can be strong and boaters may not be able to escape if they get too close. Some of these dams have physical barriers that prevent people from going near them and/or warning signs explaining the danger. Although some dams have protective barriers or have signs, boaters should be aware that many do not. Be safe. If you are not familiar with a river or stream, consult a guidebook or other reliable resource before you head out.

No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designations are a key component of a larger strategy for protecting all coastal waters of New York State. In a NDZ it is illegal to discharge untreated sewage from boats, and boaters are required to use appropriate pump-out facilities, available at many marinas, to dispose of sewage. Most coastal waters and connecting waterways are already designated as Vessel Waste No-Discharge Zones.

Learn more about boating in New York:

Fishing in New York State

Fishing is a popular pastime and a great way to put a delicious meal on your table. Keeping New York's water clean is essential to maintaining a healthy fish population.

Did you know?

There are waterbodies in New York that experienced a decrease in fish populations during the 1960's and 70's due to industrial pollution, raw sewage, and acidic deposition. After years of hard work by dedicated scientists and biologists and the passing of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, fish populations are recovering in some areas. For example:

  • Onondaga Lake is a large lake located in Onondaga County in the city of Syracuse. Onondaga Lake has a checkered past as one of the most polluted lakes in the country. However, in recent years, as the lake has become cleaner and fish habitat has improved, it has become a very popular fishing location for black bass and carp anglers.
  • Today, the Hudson River flows cleaner than it has in decades. But the Hudson did suffer from many types of pollution years ago. For instance, in the Albany area 40 years ago, raw sewage had starved the river of dissolved oxygen, which harmed fish. However, today anglers can enjoy recreational fishing in this area again (although there are still advisories about eating them due to PCBs.)

Learn more about fishing in New York State:

  • DEC's fishing web page
  • Department of Health's health advice on eating sportfish--A link to this agency is in "Links leaving DEC's website" in the right hand column.

Watershed Stewardship for Recreation

Clean water for recreation depends on all of us. DEC programs help restore and protect NY's water resources, but everyone needs to pitch in to help.

Did you know?

Pollution--such as litter, oil, and fertilizers--carried by stormwater can affect recreational uses of water bodies by making them unsafe for wading, swimming, boating and fishing. Picking up litter, disposing of used motor oil correctly, and fertilizing lawns with fertlizers with no phosphorus content are ways you can help protect NY's waterbodies.

DEC monitors and assesses the lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams, estuaries and coastal waters to ensure they support up to seven different uses:

  • water supply
  • public bathing
  • aquatic life
  • fish consumption
  • shell fishing
  • general recreation and
  • aesthetics

Not all waters are expected to support all uses (for example, marine saltwater estuaries do not support drinking water supply, and freshwaters do not support shellfish). Every waterbody in the state has a Classification that identifies the appropriate "best uses" for that waterbody.

Learn more about protecting and conserving water resources


Celebrate water all year long by helping to protect NY's water resources so that it stays clean for the many ways we recreate in, on or near the water. Enjoy!