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Map of Great Lakes Basin in NYS
NYS Great Lakes Basin Map
(click image for PDF of larger map)

New York's Great Lakes lands and waters, including Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River, are a part of the Great Lakes ecosystem in the US and Canada which holds 21% of the world's freshwater resources, contains 250 different species of fish, and is recognized as a national treasure. These important land and water resources are vital to our quality of life, and a great asset to anyone who lives in or visits the area.

News and Events

NEW! Great Lakes Report 2020 (PDF) now available.
  • DEC and Monroe County held a virtual public meeting on Feb. 23, 2022, focused on environmental improvements to the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern. Health and environmental officials are seeking input on the Degradation of Aesthetics Beneficial Use Impairment removal effort through March 23, 2022. Get more details and provide feedback (leaves DEC website). Watch the webinar recording (leaves DEC website).
  • NY's Great Lakes Action Agenda Collaborator's Webinar Series is available online.
  • DEC's Great Lakes Program has launched an online reporting tool (web browser: https://arcg.is/0r4Cue or mobile device: https://arcg.is/u195T), that anyone can to use to submit observations of accumulating algae, most commonly Cladophora, along the New York shorelines of Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the Niagara and Saint Lawrence Rivers.

How We Protect the Great Lakes

DEC's Great Lakes Watershed Program works to protect and restore water quality and ecosystem integrity in NY's portion of the Great Lakes and their lands and waters.

infographic depicting watershed
Rendering of a watershed and how people
interact with the land and water resources.
Credit: Frank Heroc.

Guided by NY's Great Lakes Action Agenda, this program works with partners to:

  • Improve environmental quality
  • Conserve and restore natural resources
  • Promote coastal and community resilience to climate change
  • Coordinate science and adaptive management
  • Provide research, education, and training
  • Coordinate community engagement and stewardship
  • Provide and identify grant funding (PDF)

NY's Great Lakes Action Agenda Goals

NY's Great Lakes Action Agenda is a plan to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance NY's Great Lakes lands and waters.

report cover for Great Lakes Action Agenda
Click image to open the
NY Great Lakes Action Agenda PDF

Achieving shared goals for the lands and waters requires partnerships with many state and federal agencies, universities, nonprofit organizations, and local communities. Ongoing efforts include:

Protecting Water Quality

  • Working with federal and state agencies, Canadian partners, and organizations to meet binational (US and Canada) commitments and ecosystem objectives within Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and connecting channels under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. (leaves DEC website)
  • Implementing Lakewide Action and Management Plans for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
  • Restoring Areas of Concern to protect public health, promote community revitalization and allow for the return of beneficial use and enjoyment of degraded water and land resources
  • Promoting green infrastructure and research to reduce polluted stormwater runoff, revitalize communities, and enhance habitats
  • Raising awareness of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and implementing management actions to reduce HABs throughout the Great Lakes
  • Developing watershed plans, conducting water quality monitoring and implementing best management practices

Conserving and Restoring Natural Resources

lake at sunset
Coastal wetlands like this one in Cranberry Creek
are restored and enhanced through partner efforts.

Enhancing Coastal and Community Resilience

  • Restoring and protecting the health and function of ecosystems and natural processes that benefit people, wildlife and water
  • Encouraging natural and nature-based shoreline management techniques to enhance coastal resilience, water quality and aquatic habitat
  • Promoting climate smart communities (leaves DEC website)

Coordinating Science, Monitoring and Information Management

group of people meeting
Meetings help residents connect and collaborate.

Educating the Next Generation of Great Lakes Stewards

NY's Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange (GLEEE) (leaves DEC website) provides teachers with training, curriculum and other resources to educate students on the Great Lakes and how they can be stewards of our watersheds.

Great Lakes Funding and Tools


More about Great Lakes :

  • GLAA Integrated Watershed Action Plans (IWAP) - NYSDEC's Great Lakes Program is leading a new pilot effort to develop ecosystem-based management (EBM) plans for two watersheds of regional interest, Cattaraugus Creek and Sterling-Wolcott Creek watersheds.
  • Areas of Concern - Areas of Concern are geographic areas around the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded. Six AOCs were designated in New York.
  • Great Lakes Action Agenda - The Great Lakes Action Agenda is a draft plan to support programs and partnerships that support conservation, restoration and protection of New York's Great Lakes basin.
  • Cladophora - DEC's Great Lakes online Cladophora reporting tool.
  • Great Lakes Water Withdrawal - Great Lakes Basin water withdrawals are now regulated by the state-wide water resources law.
  • Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council - Advising New York State's decision-makers on issues involving the Great Lakes
  • Managing the Lakes - The Lake Erie and Ontario Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs) guide restoration and protection activities of DEC and other participating federal, state, provincial, and tribal organizations.