Monitoring is often both the beginning and end of the watershed management cycle. The Division of Water (DOW) gathers information on the health of the state's waterbodies by monitoring characteristics such as flow rates, dissolved oxygen levels and temperature. In addition to physical characteristics, the DOW collects samples of aquatic organisms in many rivers and streams because the type and number of aquatic organisms are important to determining the health of a waterbody.
The DOW coordinates and oversees these monitoring programs on a watershed basis and encourages public participation, particularly through the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program, which is run by volunteers from individual lake associations around the state.
Information gathered by the DOW monitoring programs helps determine current water quality in a waterbody and identifies trends and possible future problems. This information is also used to generate water quality reports such as the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List, the New York State Section 305(b) Water Quality Report, and the Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters. These reports become tools used by many other DOW programs to guide their activities. More information about these reports is on the DOW Assessment webpage.
Division of Water monitoring programs:
- Routine Statewide Monitoring Program -- Information about Rotating Integrated Basin Studies, stream biomonitoring, lake assessment, groundwater sampling and toxicity testing.
- Water Quality Research and Special Projects -- Information about water quality studies and research projects that typically focus on a specific waterbody, contaminant, source or trend.
- Mercury in New York's Waters -- Mercury can accumulate in fish to levels that are dangerous to humans. The DOW monitors mercury levels in waterbodies across the state.