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Water Week

New York Celebrates Water Week

For nearly 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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Join the Celebration!

Join DEC in celebrating New York's Water Week May 7 - 13 in 2023 with the theme, Water Protection and Conservation.

In New York, we are fortunate to have an abundant supply of water in our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands, as well as underground, for people to use and enjoy. DEC has been entrusted with the responsibility to protect and conserve New York State's water resources for the benefit of all inhabitants of the State. This means protecting water used for drinking, recreating, agriculture, and preserving habitat. To do this, DEC manages water withdrawals and wastewater discharges, enforces laws and regulations, develops water quality standards, monitors the quality of waters, and works with partners to do all of these activities.

DEC's Division of Water invites you to learn more about its programs to protect and conserve New York's waters. During Water Week, watch for DEC social media posts and see if you know the answers to the Instagram (leaves DEC's website) trivia questions on Friday, May 12. Below are links to some Division of Water webpages to become more acquainted with their programs.

During Water Week and every day, 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.