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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.

Division of Water Staff Receive Achievement Awards

Congratulations to Division of Water staff who were recognized on December 4 at DEC's annual Trad-Berle-Murphy Awards ceremony for their leadership, teamwork, public service and mentoring.

Kelli Higgins-Roche, an Assistant Engineer in the Division of Water's Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety was selected as the 30th recipient of the Ernest F. Trad Award, DEC's highest honor awarded to an individual employee.

The Division of Water's Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Team was one of two teams to receive the Peter Berle Memorial Award for their crucial work to combat HABs in New York State. The team members include Rebecca Gorney, Stephanie June, Alene Onion, Aimee Clinkhammer, Anthony Prestigiacomo, Lewis McCaffrey, Keleigh Reynolds, Scott Kishbaugh, A.J. Smith, Eric Wiegert, Scott Cook, and Ricky Ng (Office of General Counsel).

WaterSense Partner Five-Year Anniversary

DEC is celebrating five years as a USEPA WaterSense partner (leaves DEC website). By helping consumers use less water without sacrificing quality, WaterSense has helped save a cumulative 3.4 trillion gallons of water and more than $84.2 billion in water and energy bills.

You may recognize WaterSense from labels on water efficient products (leaves DEC website) like shower heads. DEC's partnership with WaterSense includes promoting campaigns like Fix a Leak Week and sharing their water saving tips (leaves DEC website).

State Revolving Fund Final 2020 Intended Use Plans

The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), DEC, and the Department of Health have prepared the Final Federal Fiscal Year 2020 Intended Use Plan (IUP) (leaves DEC website) for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The IUPs include lists of projects that may receive financial assistance between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020.

EFC is seeking comments from the public by December 13, 2019 regarding projects that were added to the Annual Project Priority List after publication of the Draft 2020 IUPs. For more information, including how to comment, view the November 27 Environmental Notice Bulletin.

Lake Ontario Business Resiliency Program Now Accepting Applications

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced (leaves DEC website) the application period for the Lake Ontario Business Resiliency Program is now open to businesses and other organizations directly impacted by the historic flooding of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River earlier this year. The Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Commission has made available up to $30 million to support resiliency-related capital improvement projects at affected businesses and other eligible organizations, which may qualify for reimbursement of up to 50% of project costs, with a maximum award of $200,000.

Applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2020. Applications and program guidelines, including the full list of project criteria, are available on the Empire State Development website (leaves DEC website).

DEC Encourages New Yorkers to Complete Survey on St. Lawrence River Watershed to Help Guide Revitalization Plan for Region

St. Lawrence River Watershed Project partners, including DEC, have released a survey seeking input from New Yorkers with knowledge of the watershed. The short online survey (leaves DEC website) seeks information from the public about interactions with these land and water resources, and how a revitalization plan can address regional concerns. The survey will be open until January 15, 2020.

Survey results will help guide St. Lawrence River Watershed Project partners in the development of a revitalization plan. The watershed planning process gives communities in the area a chance to consider projects that could spark natural resource protection, economic investment, regional sustainability, and community revitalization.

Governor Cuomo Announces $16.2 Million Awarded to Support Water Quality Conservation Projects

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced (leaves DEC website) that $16.2 million has been awarded to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the state. More than 90 farms will benefit from the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control program, which provides funding to address water quality challenges in priority watersheds - such as the Finger Lakes and Susquehanna River watersheds - and protects the environment. This year, the program celebrates its 25th year of providing critical funding to support New York's farms in safeguarding the State's natural resources.

Five Star and Urban Water Restoration Grant Program 2020 Request for Proposals

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Wildlife Habitat Council are soliciting applications for the 2020 Five Star and Urban Water Restoration Program. The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $1.5 million in grants nationwide to applicants who will develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations. The grant will provide modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships focused on improving water quality, watersheds, and the species and habitats they support. Projects include a variety of ecological improvements, along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship.

Visit NFWF's website (leaves DEC website) for more information and how to apply.

Hudson River Estuary Program Grants for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency

DEC has announced the availability of $986,000 in competitive Hudson River Estuary Grants to help communities in the Hudson River estuary watershed remove dams or replace or right-size culverts and bridges to improve stream flow and to restore aquatic habitat connectivity for American eel and/or river herring found in tributary streams of the estuary. Initial reconnaissance and engineering and planning projects for removal of dams affecting eel or herring migration anywhere in the estuary watershed are also eligible for funding.

Visit the Hudson River Estuary Program Grants webpage for more details. All applications must be submitted in the Grants Gateway (leaves DEC website) by February 5, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

DEC Environmental Excellence Award Winners Announced

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that DEC is recognizing four organizations at the 16th annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration. Commissioner Seggos presented the awards in recognition of each organization's innovative programs and outstanding commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability.

The 2019 winners are:
  • Capital Roots' Urban Grow Center, Rensselaer County
  • I-Square LLC's Sustainable Pedestrian Friendly Mixed-Use Development, Monroe County
  • New York Botanical Garden's Energy Efficiency Master Plan, Bronx County
  • The Wild Center's Youth Climate Program, Franklin County

For more information view DEC's November 13 press release.

Applications Open for Lake Ontario Homeowner Recovery Program for Secondary Homes

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that the application period for the 2019 Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Flood Relief and Recovery Program is now open to qualifying secondary homeowners directly impacted by historic Lake Ontario flooding from January 1, 2019 to September 30, 2019. The 2019 Flood Relief and Recovery Program will allocate up to $8 million to assist qualifying secondary homeowners and is administered through New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

Residents with second homes in Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wayne counties are now eligible to apply to receive up to $50,000 in state funding to help offset damages to their residences. Applications for second homes will be accepted through December 10, 2019.

For more information and how to apply view Governor Cuomo's November 6 press release (leaves DEC website).

We All Live in a Watershed Poster Contest

DEC and the New York State Water Environment Association (NYWEA) are sponsoring a "We All Live in a Watershed" poster contest open to all middle school students. Fourteen winners will have the honor of having their artwork in a 2021 calendar distributed across New York State. The deadline for submitting posters is January 10, 2020. More information is available on DEC's We All Live in a Watershed Poster Contest webpage.

Public Comments Being Accepted and Hearing Notice on Proposed Rulemaking to Clarify the Best Usages of Class I and Class SD Saline Surface Waters

DEC has announced a proposed rulemaking to amend 701.13 and 701.14 of Title 6 of the Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York to clarify the best usages of Class I and Class SD marine surface waters were, and remain to be, "secondary contact recreation and fishing" and "fishing," respectively.

Public comments on the proposed rulemaking will be accepted through January 13, 2020. A public hearing will be held on January 8, 2020. View the October 23, 2019 Environmental Notice Bulletin for instructions on how to comment and for more information about the hearing. The rulemaking documents are available on the Proposed Amendments 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 Wastershed 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:

  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Water
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3500
    518-402-8233
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions