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.

More about Water:

  • Public Review Documents - This page provides documents and tools available for public review.
  • Water Quality Information - Programs to monitor the waters of the state, evaluate data and information against standards and criteria to assess the quality of these waters, conduct research to better define the nature of pollutants, sources and impacts on waters and their uses, and develop management strategies to enhance and protect these waters.
  • Water Quality Concerns - Links to DEC programs that address water quality concerns and issues.
  • Sewage Pollution Right to Know - Information about the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law.
  • Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) - Combined sewer systems are sewers that are designed to collect storm water runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe.
  • Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) - Information about sanitary sewer overflows, including, common causes and abatement strategies.
  • Drugs in New York's Waters - Don't flush unwanted medications - dispose of them safely and take advantage of DEC's pilot pharmaceutical take-back program drop boxes near you.
  • Operation and Maintenance of Sewer Collection Systems - Information on sewers and sewer use.
  • Stormwater - This page provides information about storm water related issues.
  • Keeping Water Clean - DEC programs that manage sources of water pollution, reduce specific pollutants, and improve and protect water quality.
  • Green Infrastructure for Wet Weather - Information about using green infrastructure practices to manage stormwater.
  • SPDES Compliance & Enforcement - Recently Revised TOGS 1.4.2 on SPDES Compliance and Enforcement and Responsiveness Summary to Public comments.
  • Managing Water Resources - DEC programs that are aimed at managing dams and other infrastructure, water supply, and protecting New Yorkers from coastal and inland flooding..
  • Pesticide General Permit - Pesticide General Permit GP-0-16-005, is required and authorizes coverage for point source discharges resulting from any application of a registered biological or chemical pesticide labeled for aquatic uses directly to, in, or over a surface water of New York. This supplements requirements in Article 15 and Article 24 permits.
  • DOW Library and Additional Information - Read or print articles published by NYSDEC's Division of Water
  • DMR Manual for Submitting and Completing the Discharge Monitoring Report - Discharge Monitoring Report guidance and frequently asked questions.