New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Amendments to Water Quality Standards Regulations - Class I and Class SD Saline Surface Waters

The NYS DEC has amended Parts 701 and 703 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York (6NYCRR). This rulemaking was necessary to meet the “swimmable” goal of the federal Clean Water Act.

These amendments require that the quality of Class I and Class SD saline surface waters be suitable for primary contact recreation, such as swimming. The amendments also establish standards for total and fecal coliforms, to protect these waters for contact recreation.

These changes went into effect on November 4, 2015, when the notice of adoption was published in the State Register.

WI/PWL Water Quality Assessment Updates

Updates of water quality assessment information for individual WI/PWL waterbodies are announced through MakingWaves. Most recently, WI/PWL Fact Sheets for the following waterbodies have been revised/updated:

Comments on these (or other) assessments are welcome via email.

In addition, the WI/PWL webpages are being modified to make it easier to find Fact Sheets for specific waterbodies of interest. These changes have now been completed for the Mohawk River Basin.

New Law Will Reduce Drugs in Environment

On October 26, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will provide an environmentally conscious way for people to return drugs for proper disposal instead of flushing them or leaving them in their medicine cabinets. Pharmacies can now request permission from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to accept unused or expired controlled drugs (such as oxycodone) from the public for proper disposal.

Pharmaceuticals that are disposed of incorrectly can end up in lakes and rivers, affecting fish and other aquatic wildlife, and there are growing concerns about other potential water quality impacts. More information about pharmaceuticals in our waters is available on the DEC’s Drugs in New York’s waters webpage.

Blue-green Algae Bloom Notification Season has Ended for 2015

Blue-green algae bloom information from 2015 has been summarized and moved to the Archived Blue-green Algae Bloom Notices webpage. DEC encourages the public to view the archived reports to be aware of lakes that were listed on the notification web page in the past.

2015 Year End Summary

During the 2015 sampling season (May – October), over 120 waterbodies from throughout the state were listed on the Blue-green Algae Bloom Notices webpage. Over 3,000 samples were collected by DEC and its partners, and of those, about 750 had evidence of blue-green algae blooms that led to weekly updates on the notification page.

DEC documented 44 lakes with “suspicious” blooms, 62 lakes with “confirmed” blooms, and 24 lakes with “confirmed with high toxins” blooms. These incidences ranged from a single observation to widespread blooms that were persistent throughout the season. Fifty-eight lakes with blue-green blooms were identified through DEC or other baseline monitoring programs and 28 lakes were identified by public reporting outside of baseline monitoring programs.

DEC’s partnerships with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, SUNY Stonybrook and other agencies were instrumental in the collection and analysis of samples as part of DEC’s efforts to monitor blue-green blooms.

Blooms May Still Occur in the Fall and Winter

Blue-green algae may still occur on waterbodies throughout the fall and possibly winter, although fewer blooms occur as wind and air temperatures rapidly decrease in the fall. Because waterbodies may have blue-green algae blooms that have not been reported to DEC, we recommend avoiding contact with floating mats, scums and discolored water – If you see it, avoid it and report it!

Continue to Report Suspected Blooms

If you suspect you have seen a blue-green algae bloom, or you, your family, or pet has been in contact with a blue-green algae bloom, please follow the instructions for reporting a bloom to DEC.

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