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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.

The Division of Water 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.

Water Webpages

In addition to the pages listed in the left column, these webpages lead to information about water resources in New York State:

Map of NYS showing all major watersheds

What's New in the Division of Water?

This section is updated weekly and topics are typically posted here for about 30 days. If a topic has a specific end date (such as a public comment period or an event), the description is removed after the end date.

Volunteers Needed for SUNY ESF Research Project in Central New York

The Division of Water encourages people who recreate on or near waterways in central New York to participate in the Citizen Recreational Evaluation of Environmental Quality (CREEQ) citizen-science initiative. The CREEQ initiative is a research project by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry sponsored by DEC. You can support this environmental science research by reporting the condition of the waterways you visit through a guided online survey (leaves DEC website).

The CREEQ project is for waterways in the following counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Otsego, Oswego, Seneca, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates counties. For more information, view the CREEQ Call for Citizen Scientists flyer (PDF).

Division of Water Asks the Public to Flush Responsibly

Certain materials flushed down toilets can damage sewer systems, wastewater treatment operations, or private septic systems, even when they are labeled as flushable. Correcting the damage is expensive, so do not flush any of the items listed below, no matter how small. Please throw them in the trash.

  • diapers
  • baby wipes
  • disinfectant wipes
  • personal hygiene products
  • any paper products other than toilet paper (e.g., paper towels, facial tissue, paper napkins)

DEC Has Launched NYHABS for 2020: New York Harmful Algal Blooms Notification and Reporting System

DEC is once again using an online Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) map and reporting system to inform the public about HABs locations in New York. Dubbed "NYHABS," the reporting system features an interactive map that is updated daily with reports of HABs.

DEC is asking the public and trained algal bloom samplers to send reports of HABs with photos electronically via a simple, mobile phone-friendly form. After DEC and Department of Health (DOH) evaluate the reports, they are posted to NYHABS.

When it comes to HABs, DEC encourages New Yorkers to:

  • Know It - HABs vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.
  • Avoid It - People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.
  • Report It - The public should report a suspected HAB through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC's website. Report health concerns related to HABs to DOH at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov, or contact your local health department.

Most algae blooms are harmless. However, exposure to toxins and other substances from certain HABs can make people and animals sick.

For more information about HABs, visit DEC's Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) webpage. You can download the HABs brochure and program guide - which includes information and links to resources regarding bloom prevention, management and control - from the webpage.

2019 Harmful Algal Bloom (HABS) Notification Summaries Posted

Waterbodies with harmful algal blooms (HABs) that were listed on the New York HABs System (NYHABS) in 2019 have been summarized and posted in the 2019 HABs Archive. Since reporting methods changed slightly in 2019 with the introduction of NYHABS, the summary information for each lake differs from previous years. DEC updated the 2012-2019 HABs Archive Summary as well. The Division of Water thanks its many partners and citizen monitors for their contributions to HABs reporting.

Volunteer for WAVE Stream Sampling

The WAVE citizen science sampling season is fast approaching, and you can take steps now to participate. WAVE (Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators) is a DEC program where volunteers collect "stream bugs" to measure water quality in wadeable streams. Anyone who can kick over a rock can participate. The sampling season is from July to September. Start by reading the WAVE Sampling Guide to find out what is involved and how to choose a location.

NEP Coastal Watershed Grant Request for Proposals

The National Estuary Program (NEP) Coastal Watershed Grant Program has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for projects that address threats to coastal and estuarine areas of national significance, including parts of Long Island and the Hudson River Estuary watershed in New York. Priorities include nutrients, loss of habitat, flooding and coastal erosion.

This newly created, nationally competitive grant program is administered by Restore America's Estuaries in coordination with the EPA. Letters of Intent are due by 5:00 p.m. on August 7, 2020. Full proposals, by invitation only, are due November 6, 2020. Visit the NEP Coastal Watershed Grant Program webpage (leaves DEC's website) for more information.

FEMA Emergency Management Institute Training Available

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers self-paced courses designed for people who have emergency management responsibilities and the general public. All are offered free-of-charge to those who qualify for enrollment. A new online training opportunity is now available: IS-1119 Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs) and Letters of Map Revision-Based on Fill (LOMR-Fs) Course. The course is designed to provide information to individuals interested in Letters of Map Change (LOMCs), LOMAs, and LOMR-Fs. The training is a great opportunity for floodplain administrators. For more information and to access the course, visit the FEMA EMI website (leaves DEC's website).

SPDES Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity Finalized

DEC has announced that the modification to the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) MSGP for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (GP-0-17-004) has been finalized. The general permit modification will become effective on July 23, 2020. Copies of the final permit, fact sheet and responsiveness summary are available on DEC's MSGP webpage.

Division of Water Mission

The mission of the Division of Water is to protect and conserve the water resources of New York State. This mission is accomplished through a wide range of programs and activities. Some of these are statewide in their scope and apply to all parts of the state. Other efforts are targeted to address water quality and quantity issues in specific regions of the state, focusing on waterbodies or watersheds where these issues are of particular concern. Still other programs target specific contaminants (e.g., mercury) or sources (e.g., stormwater runoff) or impacts (e.g., acid rain) of pollution.

Division of Water Bureaus

Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety

The Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety cooperates with federal, state, regional, and local partners to protect lives and property from floods, coastal erosion and dam failures through floodplain management and both structural and non-structural means.

  • Coastal Erosion and Floodplain Management Section - The Coastal Erosion branch of this section works to reduce coastal erosion and storm damage to protect lives, natural resources, and properties through structural and non-structural means. The Floodplain Management branch is responsible for reducing flood risk to life and property through proper management of activities including development in flood hazard areas, and review and development of revised flood maps.
  • Dam Safety Section - Responsible for reviewing repairs and modifications to dams, and assuring that dam owners operate and maintain dams in a safe condition through inspections, technical reviews, enforcement, and emergency planning.
  • Flood Control Projects Section - Responsible for reducing flood risk to life and property through construction, operation and maintenance of flood control facilities.

Bureau of Water Assessment Management

The mission of the Bureau of Water Assessment Management is to monitor the waters of the state, review data and information to evaluate these waters, and report on the quality and the ability of these waters to support uses. The Bureau also conducts research to better define the nature of pollutants, sources and impacts on waters and their uses, and provides support for the development of management strategies to enhance and protect these waters.

  • Streams Monitoring and Assessment Section
  • Lakes Monitoring and Assessment Section
  • Standards and Analytical Support Section
  • Water Assessment and Implementation Section

Bureau of Water Permits

  • Central Permits Section - Covers SPDES permits in DEC Region 4; SPDES General Permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) (ECL GP-0-16-001 / CWA GP-0-19-001), Private, Commercial, or Institutional (PCI) Facilities discharging 1,000 to 10,000 gallons per day of sanitary waste to groundwater (GP-0-15-001), Pesticide Applications to Surface Waters of New York State (GP-0-16-005), and Vessel Discharges for most commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length that operate in US waters; NYS Design Standards For Intermediate Sized Wastewater Treatment Systems; Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2).
  • South Permits Section - Covers SPDES permits in DEC Region 1; SPDES Phase II General Permits for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity (GP-0-15-002), Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) (GP-0-15-003); Multi Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Stormwater Discharges associated with Industrial Activity except construction activity (GP-0-17-004); DEC stormwater training; Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
  • West Permits Section - Covers SPDES permits in DEC Regions 2,3,8, and 9; asset management; disinfection.
  • North Permits Section - Covers SPDES permits in DEC Regions 5,6, and 7; Environmental Benefit Permit Strategy (EBPS).

Bureau of Water Compliance

  • State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Compliance Information Section - Covers SPDES and facility information; Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs); MS4 General Permit compliance; Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) compliance; wastewater treatment plant operator certification.
  • Upstate Compliance Assurance Section - Covers DEC Regions 4 - 9; SPDES/Water Integrated Compliance Strategy System (WICSS) compliance; enforcement coordination; compliance liaison with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Metropolitan Compliance Assurance Section - Covers DEC Regions 1 - 3; New York City wastewater treatment facility compliance and enforcement; compliance liaison with EPA
  • Fiscal Planning and Management Section - Covers EPA Core Grants (PPG, 604b); EPA Watershed Grants (Chesapeake Bay, Lake Champlain, Great Lakes, Long Island Sound); FEMA Grants; USGS Contracts; State Assistance and Service Contracts, MOU's, Cooperative Agreements; Attachment As; Budget & Spending Plan Management; Purchasing/Procurement Equipment - Contractual Services

Bureau of Water Resource Management

The Bureau of Water Resource Management works to protect, manage, and conserve New York State's groundwater and surface water supply sources, develop management strategies to enhance and protect these waters, and protect both the groundwater and surface water quality in the New York City Watershed and other major watersheds. The Bureau's work includes programs for water withdrawal permitting, which includes analysis and approval of aquifer (pumping) tests and reservoir capacity; drought management; Great Lakes water withdrawal registration; statewide annual water withdrawal reporting; groundwater; interstate water supply partnerships; reservoir releases; water conservation; and water well drillers registration. The Bureau provides geotechnical assistance to local, state, federal, and industrial/commercial entities, and has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for over 35 years to conduct a cooperative statewide aquifer mapping program. The Bureau also manages DEC's water quality and watershed protection programs for the New York City water supply system, including Federal Safe Drinking Water Act grants, compliance for SPDES permits within the watershed, and technical assistance and training for wastewater treatment facility operators within the watershed. The Bureau works with stakeholders and partners to improve water quality, provides funding for Water Quality Improvement Projects, and conducts outreach and communication activities. The Bureau's responsibilities also include developing and managing a geographic information system (GIS) that provides information and data about New York State's waters.

  • Water Quantity Management Section
  • Watershed Section A
  • Watershed Section B
  • Watershed Section C

More about Water:

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  • Division of Water
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3500
    518-402-8233
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