DEC monitors the waters of New York State. Monitoring and assessment goals include:
- Identifying overall quality of waters.
- Identifying long-term water quality trends.
- Characterizing naturally occurring or background conditions.
- Establishing baseline conditions for use in measuring the effectiveness of site-specific restoration and protection activities.
Monitoring strategies for DEC's water quality monitoring include the following:
- The Screening Network provides a narrative assessment of water quality at sampling sites statewide based on biological assessment using macroinvertebrate community analysis, or biomonitoring, as well as measures of acute toxicity in the water, physical habitat evaluation and water chemistry. Locations identified during the screening year may be selected for additional sampling during the following year.
- Special Surveys are designed to answer specific questions regarding habitat and water quality and may employ multi-media sampling-depth integrated water chemistry, bottom sediment and invertebrate tissue chemistry, toxicity testing macroinvertebrate or fish community assessments, habitat assessment-depending on the focus of the survey.
- The Routine Trend Monitoring Network provides information for establishing basic water quality characteristics and baseline conditions, and for identifying long-term trends by sampling at fixed sites across the state, conducted each year, regardless of the rotating cycle.