Department of Environmental Conservation

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Planning and Management

Planning & Managing NY's Waters

Developing and implementing watershed plans to protect and restore New York's waterbodies is a very effective way to address water quality problems in the state. Monitoring and assessment information, including water quality reports and best use classifications, is the basis for developing these plans.

Plans developed on a watershed basis are more successful at addressing water quality problems and helping to prevent future problems because they involve stakeholders in both upstream and downstream communities throughout the watershed. Watershed plans also have solutions that include pollution reductions from a number of sources, without placing an undue burden on one source. DOW uses a watershed approach to planning in large and small watersheds including Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Hudson River, New York City and Onondaga Lake.

DEC works with the New York State Department of State to support local watershed planning efforts. Both agencies recognize the importance of watershed planning as a means to protect and restore water resources and local economies and both administer grant programs to support local watershed planning efforts. For more information, visit the DOW Water Quality Management Planning Projects webpage and the Department of State Watershed Plans Overview webpage (a direct link is in the Links Leaving DEC's Website section of the right-hand column of this page).

Division of Water planning and management programs:

  • Dam Safety, Coastal & Flood Protection -- The DOW helps New York communities minimize the dangers of dam failure, flooding and coastal erosion.
  • Water Quality Management -- The Water Quality Management program develops plans to help restore waterbodies that do not meet their best use classification. This page describes the tools this program uses to help restore a waterbody.
  • Total Maximum Daily Loads -- The DOW develops TMDLs for waterbodies that do not support their classified best use. A TMDL defines the capacity of a waterbody to absorb a pollutant and still meet water quality standards and establishes a plan for meeting those standards.
  • Water Quality Management Planning Projects (604(b) grant program) -- The federal Clean Water Act provides for funding to states for regional water quality management planning projects. The DOW awards this funding to regional planning and interstate organizations.