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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.

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Keep Water Clean

A photo of a river in the New York City watershed
New York has 70,000 miles of rivers
and streams that you can help keep clean

New York has 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,000 lakes and ponds, 2.4 million acres of wetlands and extensive aquifers. These abundant resources need your protection to remain clean. Human activities leave behind materials like pesticides, pet waste, trash and even loose soil that can wash into our waters and pollute them. Even where you don't see a stream or lake, streets, roadside ditches and underground storm sewers carry polluted runoff into the closest waterbody. The good news is that your positive actions can do much to protect New York's waters.

  • Return used motor oil for recycling
    Never pour oil onto the street or down a storm drain. It'll wash, untreated, into the nearest waterbody. Most New York service stations accept used oil. Some municipalities also collect used oil as part of a community household hazardous waste collection.
  • Use a commercial car wash
    Or wash your car on the lawn to keep dirty, soapy water from flowing into storm drains and eventually into your local streams and lakes.
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways
    Hosing yard debris off hard surfaces just washes it into storm drains. Compost yard waste instead.
  • Fight mud
    Cover areas of bare soil with mulch, or plant grass or ground covers to keep rain from washing soil into storm drains, ditches, streams and lakes. Fine soil particles, or sediment, can suffocate fish and destroy their habitat.
  • Avoid using lawn fertilizers that contain phosphorus
    Test your lawn first to see if it needs phosphorus. Phosphorus that is not needed by turf grass is often carried by rain into nearby waterbodies where it can cause serious environmental problems. The new Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law severely restricts or prohibits the use of phophorus-containing lawn fertilizers.
  • Leave a un-mowed buffer next to streams and lakes
    A buffer strip filters the pollutants carried by storm runoff, stops erosion of banks and helps prevent flooding downstream. A buffer of native plants also benefits wildlife and beautifies your backyard.
  • Flush responsibly
    Rather than flushing, dispose of cleansers, beauty products, medicine, auto fluids, paint, and lawn care products at a local household hazardous waste facility or take pharmaceuticals to special collection days. Septic systems and wastewater treatment can't handle these materials.
  • Into the trash, not the drain
    Dispose of excess fats and grease, diapers, condoms, and personal hygiene products in the garbage can. These materials can clog pipes and cause raw sewage to overflow.

More about Keep Water Clean:

  • Contact for this Page
  • Office of Communication Services
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233
    518-402-8013
    Send us an email
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions