Explore the countless waterbodies throughout New York State and learn about their importance, usage, and role in their ecosystems.
New York State's watersheds, or drainage basins, are the basis for management, monitoring, and assessment activities.
Everyone lives in a watershed. It might be large or small. All watersheds are part of the bigger environment. What you do at your house affects everyone downstream and around you.
Lakes and Rivers
New York State is richly endowed with freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, as well as portions of two of the five Great Lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams.
These inland water bodies serve as the drinking water supplies, provide flood control to protect life and property, and support recreation, tourism, agriculture, fishing, power generation, and manufacturing. These water bodies also provide habitat for aquatic plant and animal life.
Oceans and Estuaries
New York has shoreline on the Northern Atlantic Ocean that connects to tidal and freshwater rivers and streams that drain through watersheds into the ocean. Within the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island there are several distinct estuaries that serve as valuable habitat for marine life while providing essential human services to coastal communities and the regional economy.
There are five major estuaries in New York State:
- Peconic Bays system
- Long Island south shore bays system
- New York/New Jersey Harbor
- Hudson River Estuary
- Long Island Sound
DEC, along with EPA, other state agencies, and local municipalities devised management plans for each of these areas to address their issues of concern and develop protection and restoration strategies.
Wetlands (swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas) are areas saturated by surface or ground water sufficient to support distinctive vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands serve as natural habitat for many species of plants and animals and absorb the forces of flood and tidal erosion to prevent loss of upland soil.
In New York State, two main types of wetlands are the focus of protection: tidal wetlands around Long Island, New York City and up the Hudson River all the way to Troy Dam; and freshwater wetlands found on river and lake floodplains across the state.
This website provides information about:
- The status of New York's tidal and freshwater wetlands, and trends in the extent of wetlands in the state
- The state Freshwater Wetlands Act and how DEC regulates wetlands, including wetlands mapping
- Wetlands conservation and restoration