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Facts about New York State Waters

man in stream near bridge
Major improvements in New York State's
water quality have come about over the
past 30 years.

New York State enjoys an abundance of clean, fresh water that serves as a basis for recreation, tourism, agriculture, fishing and manufacturing. Our streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters provide habitat for a wide array of aquatic plants and animals. Even those that don't live in the water depend on it, just as we do. Indeed, our quality of life and even our economy rely heavily on clean waters.

Precipitation -The source of our waterbodies

  • Average precipitation in New York State: 90 billion gallons per day (BGD), or 40 inches per year.
  • Of this, one-half (45 BGD) is returned to the air by evapotranspiration from land and water.
  • Approximately 27-31 BGD run off into surface waters and eventually, out to sea.
  • 14 to 18 BGD seep into and recharge the groundwater supply.

Where is the water?

  • Number of major drainage basins: 17
  • Rivers and streams: 52,337 miles
  • Great Lakes shoreline: 577 miles
  • Number of lakes*/ponds/reservoirs: 7,849 (790,782 acres) (*does not include Great Lakes)
  • Volume of surface waters: 22,164 billion gallons
  • Atlantic shoreline: 117.5 miles
  • Estuaries/bays/harbors (includes New York State portion of Long Island Sound): 1,530 sq. miles
  • Freshwater wetlands: 2.4 million acres
  • Tidal wetlands: 25,000 acres
  • Long Island aquifers lie beneath about 3% of New York State.
  • Eighteen primary water supply aquifers lie beneath about 4% of upstate New York. A primary aquifer is an underground soil or rock formation that yields enough water to be used as a major municipal water supply.
  • Principal aquifers lie beneath 11.2% of New York State. Principal aquifers are not intensively used at present for municipal water supply

  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Water
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3500
    Send us an email
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions