Department of Environmental Conservation

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Managing Our Lakes, Rivers and Coasts

New York's abundant rivers, streams, lakes and coastal waters are used for recreation, fishing, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. Dams and other infrastructure help us manage our waters.

Aerial view of river

Though plentiful, the water resources of the state are threatened by chemical contaminants and other pollutants from a wide range of sources.

DEC provides various programs that track the quality of the waters, identify and investigate sources of pollution, control these sources and develop strategies to address water quality threats. DEC programs regulate and provide guidance on water supply withdrawal. DEC also manages floodplains and coastal areas to reduce flood risk to protect New Yorkers from coastal and inland flooding.

This page provides links to information on topics related to programs for the management and protection of the waters of New York State, including:

  • Water Quality Information (Monitoring, Water Quality Assessment, Impaired Waters, Waterbody Inventory, Priority Waterbodies List, Research Studies)
  • Water Quality Concerns (Nonpoint Sources, Stormwater, CSOs, CAFOs, Septic Systems, Drugs in Water, Nutrients, Wastewater Infrastructure, Atmospheric Deposition, Legacy Pollutants, Invasive Species, Blue-green HABs)
  • Keeping Waters Clean (Water Quality Standards, Dishwater Detergent & Nutrient Law, TMDLs, Green Infrastructure, Watershed Plans, Wastewater Treatment, Compliance and Enforcement, No Discharge Zones)
  • Permitting Information (Municipal Permits, Industrial Permit, CAFO Permits, Sewers, Vessel General Permit, Coastal Activities)
  • Managing Water Resources (Water Withdrawal, Conservation, Flood Protection and Floodplain Management, Coastal Erosion, Dam Safety, Groundwater, Reservoir Releases, Streamgages, Compliance and Enforcement)
  • DOW Library and Additional Information (Articles by DEC staff, ClearWaters Columns, Diet for a Small Lake, Manual for completing the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR))
Map of NYS showing all major watersheds

Learn more about the water programs and how DEC uses a watershed management approach to protect and conserve water resources.

These statewide water programs are often supplemented by specific watershed programs that focus on the protection and restoration of waters in a particular drainage area of the state. Information and activities for a specific watershed in the state can be found on the River and Lake Watersheds page.

This page provides information on topics related to these programs for the management and protection of the waters of New York State, including guidance and regulations.

Information is available for communities that deal with significant rain events and high flows due to wet weather.

Compliance & Enforcement

The goal of compliance and enforcement is to ensure consistent, statewide understanding and implementation of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) program in order to promote water quality and public health in New York State. The Compliance & Enforcement web page has more information on this topic.

Grant Applications

This web page contains links to information on the NYSDEC grant programs.

Guidance & Regulations


The NYSDEC's regulations web page lists New York State Register and Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR).

Proposed, Recently Adopted and Emergency Regulations

Proposed Regulations, recently adopted regulations and emergency rules are available for viewing. Recently adopted regulations will be kept for 12 months on this page.

Guidance Documents

Documents providing guidance information information for a variety of water related issues such as flood, dam, storm water and wastewater.

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