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Water Week

New York Celebrates Water Week

For 40 years, New York has set aside a week in May to focus on its abundant water resources, highlight water issues and encourage stewardship.
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New York is celebrating Water Week May 9 - 15, 2021. This year's theme is Clean Water for Everyone to highlight the importance of clean water no matter where you live-city, suburb, or countryside.

In New York we are fortunate to have an abundant supply of water in our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands, as well underground. City or country, people living near water want to use it for recreation and/or as a source of drinking water. Clean water is an asset to a community's health and economic vitality.

The Division of Water (DOW) is committed to protecting and restoring New York's waters in all areas of the state and has been incorporating environmental justice practices for communities that may be burdened by negative environmental consequences. Environmental justice is defined by the DEC as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. For Water Week 2021, we are renewing our commitment.

One of the ways DOW helps to restore waters in environmental justice areas is by funding water quality improvement projects in these areas through our grant programs. Between 2015 and 2019 over $60 million was awarded through the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) program for projects in environmental justice areas. Projects included wastewater treatment improvements, green infrastructure practices, and streambank stabilization.

No matter where you live, we encourage you to find ways to help protect and conserve New York's water resources. Ideas for water-related activities can be found on the watershed stewardship and keep water clean webpages. To learn about some of New York's water programs, visit the webpages under "Important Links" in the right-hand column of this page.

Photo of a lake and creek
Help protect, restore and conserve New York's waters for the future!

New York has Lakes of All Sizes

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a lake or pond in New York State. However, the Division of Water commonly uses 7,850 as the number of lakes, reservoirs and ponds in the state. This includes over 3,000 larger named lakes (over 6.4 acres), about 500 larger unnamed ponds, and about 4,300 smaller named and unnamed waterbodies of some significance that have been included into the official count.

  • DEC conducts water quality sampling and evaluates these waterbodies primarily through two monitoring programs:
  • Monitoring data collected through these programs is used to develop and implement lake management plans.

Water Quality of Lakes

The majority of lakes and ponds in New York support swimming, fishing, and other recreational uses. However, some lakes are affected by water quality concerns that can prevent or limit recreational activities. Aquatic invasive species and harmful algal blooms have been around for a long time, but they are getting worse and may represent the largest threat to New York State lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

  • DEC and its partners are implementing a number of initiatives to address aquatic invasive species, including: preventing them from entering lakes and ponds with boat stewardship programs; prohibiting the worst of these exotic species from being sold or transported in New York; and sponsoring very active volunteer monitoring programs to detect and respond to foreign species before the invasions are too advanced to manage.
  • To address harmful algal blooms, DEC: works with researchers to understand the cause of blooms; supports extensive professional and volunteer monitoring programs to find and verify blooms; notifies the public about the location and extent of blooms to help protect recreational users; and implements public educational programs.
  • Many water quality concerns are the result of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, reaching lakes from urban stormwater runoff, septic systems and agricultural runoff. New York is developing strategies to reduce the amount of nutrients entering our waters. Examples include: restricting the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, urban stormwater controls, and erosion control measures.
Learn more about water quality in NY's lakes
  • Diet for a Small Lake, a compendium of information about the ecology, monitoring, and management of lakes and watersheds throughout New York Sate.
  • Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff law, restricts the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.
  • Water Quality Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List, a compilation of water quality information for all individual waterbodies (lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and coastlines) in the state.