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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.

Funding Available to Support High Hazard Dam Repairs

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced $650,000 in grant funding is now available to assist eligible dam owners with infrastructure repair costs. Funding is provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) High Hazard Potential Dam grant program. DEC is now accepting applications for grants to assist with technical, planning, design, and other pre-construction activities associated with the rehabilitation of eligible dams classified as High Hazard dams.

The deadline for applications is June 11, 2021. The Request for Applications is available online through the NYS Grants Gateway (leaves DEC website).

DEC to Evaluate Ultrasonic Sound Wave Treatment to Combat HABs

DEC has announced the start of a new research project to evaluate the potential efficacy of ultrasonic devices to reduce harmful algal blooms (HABs) on Lake Agawam in the village of Southampton. DEC is undertaking the research project in partnership with the village of Southampton. This research supports the HABs Action Plan (PDF) that DEC developed for Lake Agawam in 2020.

DEC experts are working closely with the Lake Agawam community, in collaboration with Stony Brook University, to study the use of ultrasonic devices on the lake throughout the summer of 2021. If successful, the technology could be implemented on other water bodies susceptible to HABs.

Look for the Zero: Use Only Phosphorus-Free Lawn Fertilizer

DEC encourages homeowners to go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer. Consumers should review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, so a zero in the middle means the fertilizer is phosphorus free.

Regardless of the lawn's location, excess phosphorus can wash off and pollute lakes and streams, harming fish and ruining boating and swimming. More than 100 water bodies in New York State cannot be used due to phosphorus overuse. For more information, visit DEC's Lawn Fertilizer webpage.

Summary of 2020 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Notification Season

DEC has posted a summary of the 2020 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) notices to the HABs Archive webpage. During 2020, 184 waterbodies statewide were listed on the NY HABs System (NYHABS). The reports ranged from a single observation to widespread blooms that were persistent throughout the season. The 2012-2019 HABs Archive Summary includes HAB reports since DEC began the HABs program. More information about HABs can be found below.

SPDES Compliance and Enforcement Annual Report

The SPDES Compliance and Enforcement annual report for state fiscal year 2019/2020 is now available. This report details DEC's compliance and enforcement oversight of facilities permitted under the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) and those activities relating to New York State's authorizations under the Clean Water Act. The report also provides a summary of sewage releases reported to DEC as required under the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act.

Introducing the Drinking Water Source Protection Program Newsletter

As part of New York's Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2), DEC is launching a monthly e-newsletter to provide information about a variety of subjects related to protecting New York's drinking water sources. Newsletter topics will include DWSP2 program updates, resources available, potential funding sources, implementation projects, and more. Sign up (leaves DEC website) for the DWSP2 newsletter to stay informed on this topic.

New York Harmful Algal Blooms Notification and Reporting System

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.

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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  • Page applies to all NYS regions