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Protection of Waters Program

Protection of Waters Program

Atlantic Salmon

Rich Water Resources

New York is rich with valuable water resources. These rivers, streams, lakes and ponds are necessary for drinking and bathing; agricultural, commercial and industrial uses; and fish and wildlife habitat. In addition, New York's waterways provide opportunities for recreation; education and research; and aesthetic appreciation.

...require Protection

Certain human activities can adversely affect, even destroy the delicate ecological balance of these important areas, impairing the uses of these waters. The policy of New York State; set forth in Title 5 of Article 15 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) , is to preserve and protect these lakes, rivers, streams and ponds.

Protection of Waters Regulatory Program

To implement this policy, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) created the Protection of Waters Regulatory Program to prevent undesirable activities on water bodies by establishing and enforcing regulations that:

  1. are compatible with the preservation, protection and enhancement of the present and potential values of the water resources;
  2. protect the public health and welfare; and
  3. are consistent with the reasonable economic and social development of the state.

Classification of Waters

All waters of the state are provided a class and standard designation based on existing or expected best usage of each water or waterway segment.

  • The classification AA or A is assigned to waters used as a source of drinking water.
  • Classification B indicates a best usage for swimming and other contact recreation, but not for drinking water.
  • Classification C is for waters supporting fisheries and suitable for non - contact activities.
  • The lowest classification and standard is D.

Waters with classifications A, B, and C may also have a standard of (T), indicating that it may support a trout population, or (TS), indicating that it may support trout spawning (TS). Special requirements apply to sustain these waters that support these valuable and sensitive fisheries resources.

Small ponds and lakes with a surface area of 10 acres or less, located within the course of a stream, are considered to be part of a stream and are subject to regulation under the stream protection category of Protection of Waters.

To determine the classification and standard of a given watercourse, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation regional office responsible for the area in which the watercourse is located (see page vi of this guide for addresses and phone numbers).

Certain waters of the state are protected on the basis of their classification. Streams and small water bodies located in the course of a stream with a classification of AA, A, or B, or with a classification of C with a standard of (T) or (TS) are collectively referred to as "protected streams," and are subject to the stream protection provisions of the Protection of Waters regulations.

The Environmental Resource Mapper (ERM), a new web based interactive mapping application developed by DEC, can be used to identify protected streams based on their classification. ERM can also be used to create simple maps that can be submitted as part of the Protection of Waters Permit Application process.

More about Protection of Waters Program:

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    4th Floor
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1750
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