Water Quality - Rochester, NY area  


Consider what living in our area would be like if we did not have plenty of fresh clean water.  

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Page Contents: Water Quality Newslinks | Water Quality and Climate Change | Water Quality Discussions  | Your Right to Safe Drinking Water  | Official Water Sites | Water Quality Actions  | Water Quality Resources | Essays on Water Quality |


Why Water Quality is important to Rochesterians and our environment

Rochester's drinking water is very important, as it is in any community.  Any degradation in the quality of our water is critical to our health and our environment. Water Quality

Also, the quality of the water in many of our local waters (including streams, rivers, the Finger Lakes, and Great Lakes) is changing because of Urban Sprawl, invasive species, Climate Change, and the presence of many man-made toxins and even pharmaceuticals.  Find out all there is about our area's water quality.  Following the news on Water Quality can reveal important trends that may otherwise be lost if we only pay attention to major stories when they break in mainstream media.


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SEARCH: Use search engine below to find anything posted since 1998.


Water Quality and Climate Change

Climate Change will seriously challenge our ability to get and retain clean fresh drinking water.


  • Climate Change and Water "Climate change is changing our assumptions about water resources. As climate change warms the atmosphere and alters the hydrological cycle, we will continue to witness changes to the amount, timing, form, and intensity of precipitation and the flow of water in watersheds, as well as the quality of aquatic and marine environments. These changes are also likely to affect the programs designed to protect the quality of water resources and public health and safety.  EPA is working with state, tribal, and local governments and public and private stakeholders to understand the science, develop tools, and implement actions to respond to the impacts of climate change on water resources and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. " United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Impacts of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms Climate change is predicted to change many environmental conditions that could affect the natural properties of fresh and marine waters both in the US and worldwide. Changes in these factors could favor the growth of harmful algal blooms and habitat changes such that marine HABs can invade and occur in freshwater. An increase in the occurrence and intensity of harmful algal blooms may negatively impact the environment, human health, and the economy for communities across the US and around the world. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide climate change researchers and decision–makers a summary of the potential impacts of climate change on harmful algal blooms in freshwater and marine ecosystems. Although much of the evidence presented in this fact sheet suggests that the problem of harmful algal blooms may worsen under future climate scenarios, further research is needed to better understand the association between climate change and harmful algae. May 2013 US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water EPA 820-S-13-001 MC 4304T
  • Blue-Green Harmful Algal Blooms What is a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)? Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These are collectively called harmful algal blooms (HABs). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
    • Blue-green Algae Blooms You can look up blue-green algae bloom reports issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Most algae is harmless, but blue-green algae is toxic. 
  • Climate Change Clearinghouse - a resource about drinking water, waste water, and water use "The Northeastern United States faces a challenging set of climate-related issues. In particular, the region is highly susceptible to sea-level rise. Other expected climate change impacts in this region mirror those anticipated in other areas of the country. Climate change has resulted in warmer temperatures throughout the Northeast. Since 1970, the annual average temperature in this region has increased by 1.1°C. Increasing temperatures will reduce runoff in watersheds due to an increase in evapotranspiration and changes in vegetation communities. One study estimated that a 3°C increase in mean annual temperature throughout New England will result in a decrease in runoff between 11% and 13%. This will place new stress on water supplies. Water utility managers in this region may have to develop innovative solutions to continue to meet water demand. This will be difficult because water demand generally increases during periods of warmer weather. "
  • Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning "Across the United States, climate change is affecting water resources in many ways, including putting water supplies at risk, increasing flooding and erosion, and threatening fish and aquatic species. As global warming pollution continues to affect our environment, these risks to water resources will only increase, posing grave challenges to our nation's cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Some states are leading the way in preparing for water-related impacts with integrated and comprehensive preparedness plans that address all relevant water sectors and state agencies. Unfortunately, other states are lagging when it comes to consideration of potential climate change impacts -- or have yet to formally address climate change preparedness at all. " (2012, National Resources Defense Council)
  • Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)-Associated Illness Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are the rapid growth of algae that can cause harm to animals, people, or the local ecology. A HAB can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of water and can be different colors. HABs can produce toxins that have caused a variety of illnesses in people and animals. HABs can occur in warm fresh, marine, or brackish waters with abundant nutrients and are becoming more frequent with climate change. (Centers for Disease Control and Preventions)


Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 11.17.56 AMToxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You? A Joint Report from Resource Media and National Wildlife Federation | Download the full report: Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You? (pdf) Labor Day: Time for Toxic Algae. Labor Day weekend: the last taste of summer. A time for fishing, boating and swimming with family on our nation’s lakes. Increasingly, also a time when the health threats posed by blue-green algae keep people out of the water. The green gunky stuff is strangling a growing number of inland US waterways and releasing toxins that threaten the health of people, pets and wildlife. A new online map is the first attempt to show the scale and scope of reported freshwater hazardous algal blooms (HABs). It is a resource for communities to both report and track freshwater toxic algae outbreaks. A familiar issue to Midwesterners and Great Lakes-area residents, the problem is spreading across the US. The same pollutants that create the annual Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and coastal hazardous algae spur freshwater toxic algae. Yet even though hazardous algal blooms strike every state in the US, the issue continues to fly beneath the radar of national attention, because.. . National Wildlife Federation


Water Quality Discussions

The Rochester, NY area is surrounded by fresh clean water from its stream, rivers, Finger Lakes, and the Great Lakes.  So, how have we been doing on keeping all these bodies of water fresh and clean for future generations?

  • Major local study “to help decision makers and stakeholders understand how to maximize the positive health impacts of water resource related decisions, while minimizing negative effects on the health of Rochester’s communities” just released.  Learn about impacts of waterfront uses on community health and how this Rochester-area study can become a model for other communities.   Healthy Waterways Healthy Waterways was a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the City of Rochester, NY's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) update. The project was supported through a grant from the Health Impact Project - a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. In the Healthy Waterways report, we provide information and recommendations to help decision makers and stakeholders understand how to maximize the positive health impacts of water resource related decisions, while minimizing negative effects on the health of Rochester’s communities. In so doing, we hope to create a statewide model for incorporating HIA in the LWRP process. University of Rochester Medical Dept. of Environmental Medicine
  • Who was first? Oneida Lake. Who’s next? | 520 - An Environmental Blog | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle If the question was which New York lake would be the first to experience the joy of blue-green algae this summer, then the answer is Oneida Lake. The Utica Observer-Dispatch newspaper reported Monday that two public beaches at the popular lake had been closed since Thursday because of the suspected presence of cyanobacteria, aka blue-green algae. Though the presence of cyanobacteria hadn’t been verified when the story was done, authorities know what the stuff looks like and were pretty sure that’s what it was.  (July 12, 2011) 520 - An Environmental Blog | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Water Quality in our area]


OVERFLOW: CLIMATE CHANGE, HEAVY RAIN, AND SEWAGE Record rainstorms across the U.S. in the past year have continued to make national news, causing billions of dollars of flood damage and killing dozens. But what has barely made headlines are that these floods often cause massive overflows of untreated sewage into streams, rivers, bays, canals, and even streets and homes. Climate Central has investigated the extent of these sewage overflows. In most cases, we found reports that millions of gallons of untreated sewage were released into streets and waterways. These overflows can have devastating consequences for public health and the environment: they can trigger dangerous outbreaks of waterborne diseases and are often linked to fish kills. And when sewage overflows into homes and businesses, expensive remediation and decontamination is needed to make them safe again. Worse was the discovery that the true extent of sewage overflow is often undocumented and largely unknown. (2016 Climate Central)


  • Here are some sites that explain why we must renew our faith in tap water and why bottled water could be bad for our environment: Take Back The Tap "What you don’t know about the bottled water industry could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year. Get the facts on bottled water and find out why tap water is a better bet. " | Water | Corporate Accountability International "Clean drinking water is the basis for life, but soon two out of three people globally will not have enough of it to survive. Private corporations, often with the help of the World Bank, are increasingly determining who gets water, for what purpose and at what price. It is now our choice – will we manage water democratically so everyone has clean, safe water, or will we let corporate interests control this precious common resource at an overwhelming human cost? " | Bottled Water Free Day "Join the Canadian Federation of Students, the Sierra Youth Coalition, and the Polaris Institute in the countdown to Canada’s first Bottled Water Free Day! Organisations across the country are actively working and supporting Bottled Water Free Day by planning actions in their communities and adopting resolutions in support of the Bottled Water Free Day Pledge. "
  • Good Well Water Everyone has the right to clean, potable water. Even people in the United States using well water. This is not a fact, or ideology, or belief, or some mental quirk or disposition of mine. No reasonable person can argue this point reasonably. However, “There are no statewide or county laws that require testing of wells in Monroe County, and no enforceable water-quality standards that apply to private supplies.” (6/03/ 09 Democrat and Chronicle) So, the issue about getting clean, potable drinking well water from a well is somehow different from drinking municipal waters, which do have an enforceable standard. There, as it seems, is the rub.  more...
  • Water Issue: Don’t miss this series by the New York Times on the long series of violations of the Clean Water Act of 1972.  Environmental issues don’t tend to go away because people are too busy or uninterested.  Many people, rather than think about the decades of inadequate enforcement of the Clean Air Act (if they think such things at all), grab bottled water and be done with it. Case closed, hand me my TV remote.  What most interesting to me is not merely the pervasiveness of the violations of this law (‘cause that’s what corporations do), but how we react to this overwhelming environmental issue—clean water.  We are not reacting to the world-wide pollution of our fresh water well.  more...
  • How's our Infrestructure? Although the story below is addressed to the Albany area specifically, the issue of old sewer infrastructure is not a popular environmental issue but it is going to have to be addressed in every community. Old sewer pipes creating a tough challenge -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY:2783: ALBANY -- Aging sewer systems in the Capital Region are dumping more than a billion gallons of watered-down, untreated sewage into the Hudson River each year, according to a report by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission. (November 15, 09 ) Albany NY News - Times Union - Serving Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Troy  more...
  • Should Rochester Worry About Clean Water? Because we live in an area so rich in Clean Water, we forget that water scarcity is a world-wide crisis that need addressing. And because we have so much clean water, we are part of this equation: Could water scarcity cause international conflict? | csmonitor.com "In reporting a recent story on a fight over water between residents of a small Colorado town and Nestlé Waters North America, a bottled water company, I learned much about water scarcity around the world, and the sense — also growing — that shortages of water could spark much future conflict. In recent years, there’s been a proliferation of books on the world’s present and future water woes, from Maude Barlow’s Blue Covenant to Robert Glennon’s Unquenchable." --from The Christian Science Monitor | csmonitor.com  more...

State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals - 2012 An assessment of the state of the science of endocrine disruptors prepared by a group of experts for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WHO

This document provides the global status of scientific knowledge on exposure to and effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The work is based on the fact that endocrine systems are very similar across vertebrate species and that endocrine effects manifest themselves independently of species. The effects are endocrine system related and not necessarily species dependent. Effects shown in wildlife or experimental animals may also occur in humans if they are exposed to EDCs at a vulnerable time and at concentrations leading to alterations of endocrine regulation. Of special concern are effects on early development of both humans and wildlife, as these effects are often irreversible and may not become evident until later in life. The third and final chapter of this document discusses exposure of humans and wildlife to EDCs and potential EDCs.

Safe Drinking Water is a basic right.

Check these official rules and regulation concerning your right to clean fresh water. 

  • You too can find out if “discharge rainwater mixed with untreated sewage during or following rainfall or snowmelt events and may contain bacteria that can cause illness” in your NYS region.  It’s easy-peasy.  It’s part of your Sewage Pollution Right to Know.  Just “Sign up with GovDelivery to receive information about sewage overflows and bypasses, public sewage systems, and updates on the implementation about sewage pollution right to know law via email (check the "Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law" box under "Water").” Be even better if every place that was supposed to submit sewage discharges did so in a timely manner with a full disclosure of what they dumped into our water.  Our local media might get going on that, like they are in the Buffalo region. Just saying… Weekly Discharge Report Summary & Breakdown of Municipal Wastewater Characteristics "Weekly Discharge Report Summary For the week of 2/11 to 2/17, 1 Sewage Discharge Report was received. Sewage discharge reports received by DEC are posted to the Sewage Discharge Reports web page daily. The report can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet.  Breakdown of Municipal Wastewater Characteristics We all use water. As we discussed last week, there are several sources of municipal water demands that directly impact wastewater flow.   There are several pollutants that are generally found in wastewater. Without an adequate wastewater treatment system, these pollutants would be released directly into the environment. Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) ensure the safety of the public health and welfare by removing these harmful pollutants. The table below lists some pollutants found in a wastewater stream, the amount contributed daily per person (pounds of pollutant generated per person), and a brief description of each pollutant. The amount generated for a small municipality of 5000 residents is provided to illustrate the total amount produced: " (February 18, 2014) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Sewage Pollution Right to Know DEC is working on developing regulations and guidance to implement the law. Information on this web page will be updated as needed. Sign up with GovDelivery to receive news and updates about sewage pollution right to know regulations and other water related news and events from DEC via email (check the "MakingWaves" box under "Water"). The first phase of the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, a system for collecting discharge reports of untreated and partially treated sewage from public wastewater systems, goes into effect May 1, 2013. The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on August 9, 2012, changes the requirements for reporting untreated or partially treated sewage discharges, also known as bypasses, from publicly owned treatment works and imposes new reporting requirements for publicly owned sewer systems and combined sewer overflows. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Clean Water Act (CWA) | Agriculture | US EPA The objective of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA), is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of  wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.  New York State Department of Conservation
  • Drinking Water Protection Program "Assuring the delivery of safe drinking water is critical to the public health and well being of all New Yorkers. The Department of Health oversees the delivery of drinking water to ensure that it is suitable for people to drink. To assure the safety of drinking water in New York, the Department of Health in cooperation with its partners, the county health departments, regulates the operation, design and quality of public water supplies and commercial bottled water suppliers; assures water sources are adequately protected; provides financial assistance to public water suppliers, reviews and approves plans for proposed realty subdivisions, and sets standards for constructing individual water supplies and individual wastewater systems (septic systems). " - New York State Department of Health
  • EPA > Water > Safewater > Safe Drinking Water Act Home The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water.  Under SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards.
  • Water Well Program - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Registration - The NYS Water Well Driller Registration Law, as amended by the NYS Legislature in July 1999, requires any business conducting "water well drilling activities" to register annually with NYSDEC before doing business anywhere within the State of New York. (See ECL § 15-1525). Prior to amendment, the law required registration for well drilling activities only within 4 counties of NY (Nassau, Suffolk, Kings and Queens).
  • New York Drinking Water The water you drink, Drinking water suppliers now provide reports (sometimes called consumer confidence reports) that tell where drinking water comes from, and what contaminants may be in it. Read your water quality report if it is online, or contact your water supplier to get a copy. Or, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. For a copy of the list of systems included in this action and their compliance status as of today, please call 212-637-3675. --from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  •  Monroe County Department of Health A Health Information Line is frequently used when specific immediate actions are required of the public to safeguard their health. This number is often cited by media outlets for ease in directing callers to a particular program.   Health Information Line: 585 753-5600
  • USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology (Toxics) Program was initiated in 1982. The goal of the Program is to provide scientific information on the behavior of toxic substances in the Nation's hydrologic environments. Contamination of surface water, ground water, soil, sediment, and the atmosphere by toxic substances is among the most significant issues facing the Nation. Contaminants such as excessive nutrients, organic chemicals, metals, and pathogens enter the environment, often inadvertently, via industrial, agricultural, mining, or other human activities. The extent of their migration and their persistence often are difficult to ascertain. Estimates of the costs and time frames for cleanup of contamination and protection of human and environmental health can best be described as astounding, despite continual efforts by governments and industries worldwide to improve environmental technologies.
  • Capacity Development Program - Strategy Report Improving The Technical, Managerial, and Financial Capabilities of Public Water Systems in New York One of the focuses of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments is to ensure that public water systems have the ability to provide safe drinking water to the public. The Amendments seek to prevent compliance problems and associated health risks by ensuring that public water systems have the capability to produce safe drinking water now and in the future. To achieve these goals, the Amendments include provisions for several prevention programs – one of which is the capacity development program.--from the NYS Department of Health. 
  • National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Founded in 1944, the National Sanitation Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to developing standards, product certifications and risk-management practices for public health and safety. NSF focuses primarily on food, water, indoor air quality and the environment while developing its standards.


The Story of Bottled Water FILM RELEASE: On World Water Day, new Story of Stuff Project film takes a provocative, humorous look at bottled water The Story of Bottled Water: How Manufactured Demand pushes what we don’t need and destroys what we need most SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On March 22nd – World Water Day – The Story of Stuff Project will release The Story of Bottled Water, a 7-minute animated film, at www.storyofbottledwater.org . Hosted by Annie Leonard, the creator of the internet hit The Story of Stuff, the film was co-produced with five leading sustainability advocacy organizations: Corporate Accountability International, Environmental Working Group, Food & Water Watch, Polaris Institute and Pacific Institute. The Story of Bottled Water employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand, specifically how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when they can get it almost free from a tap.

Official Rochester-area Water Regulations sites

Got Water issues? Contact your water providers.

  • Monroe County Water Authority  Our MCWA treatment plants produce 62 million gallons of drinking water every day for homes in Monroe, Genesee, Ontario, Wayne, and Orleans counties. 
  • City of Rochester | Water The City of Rochester provides potable water to its residents. Each property that has an active, metered service can consume water from the distribution system. The City turns water on for new structures or for properties that formerly canceled water service, and turns water off when owners of unoccupied properties request that water service be discontinued. To allow for short-term repairs or improvements to a water service, a property owner may request that the supply of water to a property be shut off for a period not exceeding 24-hours. 
    • City of Rochester | Water Quality Annual Reports "The City of Rochester is proud to supply its residents with clean, high quality water. The Bureau of Water annually produces a Water Quality Report that provides residents with information on the quality of drinking water, news on the water system, details on the source of drinking water and its treatment and test results. " -from City of Rochester
  • VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility - General Information  The Frank E. VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility dates from 1917. The original Rochester Sewage Treatment Plant, formerly the Durand Eastman Plant, was completed in 1917 and has since been expanded and modified on several occasions. 1976 was the first full year of operation for the new facilities at the VanLare Plant.


Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications Major Findings and Implications Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in fish to levels of concern for human health and the health of fish-eating wildlife. Mercury contamination of fish is the primary reason for issuing fish consumption advisories, which exist in every State in the Nation. Much of the mercury originates from combustion of coal and can travel long distances in the atmosphere before being deposited. This can result in mercury-contaminated fish in areas with no obvious source of mercury pollution. Three key factors determine the level of mercury contamination in fish—the amount of inorganic mercury available to an ecosystem, the conversion of inorganic mercury to methylmercury, and the bioaccumulation of methylmercury through the food web. Inorganic mercury originates from both natural sources (such as volcanoes, geologic deposits of mercury, geothermal springs, and volatilization from the ocean) and anthropogenic sources (such as coal combustion, mining, and use of mercury in products and industrial processes). Humans have doubled the amount of inorganic mercury in the global atmosphere since pre-industrial times, with substantially greater increases occurring at locations closer to major urban areas. (October 14, 2014) U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey

Get Active on Protecting Water Quality

There are groups and organizations who focus on keeping our area's water clean and safe. Contact them.  Join up.

  • Adopt-A-Stream Do you enjoy and value being outdoors? Are you concerned about clean water, and wonder what you can do about it? Or perhaps you live, work, or play near a stream, and wonder if it’s healthy? We invite concerned people like you to take an active role in assuring the well-being of your communities' water resources.
  • How to test farms & nearby water sources.  A useful guide to environmental groups who want to check up on farms and pollution: Putting Factory Farms to the Test: A Guide to Community-based Water Monitoring - Changes in farming practices over the last 60 years have dramatically increased the potential to harm the environment and human health, especially in the livestock sector. Large intensive livestock operations can increase the risk of environmental contamination from harmful bacteria, foul odours and toxic vapours. As a result of such effects, citizens are becoming concerned about large livestock operations in their communities. Putting Factory Farms to the Test is a manual designed to help community groups monitor the effects of local factory farms on nearby water sources. The manual is a step-by-step guide to help community groups start their monitoring program, collect samples, manage data and put the results to good use in the community. --from Environmental Defence Canada
  • Project WET - Worldwide Water Education "Since 1984, Project WET, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has dedicated itself to the mission of reaching children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education. Project WET achieves its mission of worldwide water education by: publishing water resource materials in several languages. providing training workshops on diverse water topics (i.e., watersheds, water quality, water conservation). organizing community water events, such as Make a Splash with Project WET water festivals and the Global Water Education Village™. building a worldwide network of educators, water resource professionals and scientists. Project WET publications, training workshops, global network and community events are grounded in Project WET’s core beliefs. "


Wasting our Waterways TOXIC INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION AND RESTORING THE PROMISE OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT Released by: Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Release date: Thursday, June 19, 2014

Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year – threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic discharges from industrial facilities are responsible for polluting more than 17,000 miles of rivers and about 210,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide. To curb this massive release of toxic chemicals into our nation’s water, we must step up Clean Water Act protections for our waterways and require polluters to reduce their use of toxic chemicals.


Water Quality Resources

Learn about how to protect our area's clean water

  • Find out where to swim: Swimming With more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, nearly 600 miles of ocean and Great Lakes coastline, about 1,500 square miles of marine estuaries and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, there are many choices for places to swim in NYS. Be Safe! NY's waters are great for swimming and water recreation, but they are also used for drinking water supplies, fishing, shellfishing, flood control, power generation, and manufacturing and provide habitat for plants and animals. DEC routinely monitors surface waters to determine the average or typical water quality; however, DEC does not continuously monitor water quality in all waters. The New York State Department of Health advises that people swim at a beach regulated by the state, counties, towns or villages whenever possible, because these are monitored for safety and health and are posted for closures or swimming advisories when there are unsafe conditions. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • A Toxic Flood: Why We Need Stronger Regulations to Protect Public Health from Industrial Water Pollution | Industrial facilities across the United States released more than 200 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our nation’s waterways in 2009. Many of these chemicals are known to increase the risk of cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and a range of other health issues. In addition to chemicals known to be toxic, industry used and disposed of tens of thousands of other chemicals that have not been adequately evaluated and whose potential risks to human health are thus unknown. The reality of this industrial water pollution indicates a serious problem with the effectiveness of federal environmental regulations that are supposed to protect public health. Industrial pollution is threatening the quality of our nation’s water resources and the health of our communities. The public has a right to know what chemicals they may be exposed to in daily life. Embodying this right to know, federal law does require most but not all industrial facilities to report releases into the environment of about 650 chemicals that are known to be toxic. Through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides public access to the resulting data on industrial chemical releases -- (May 16, 2013, Food and Water Watch)
  • New York State Water Resources Institute " The Mission of the New York State Water Resources Institute (WRI) is to improve the management of water resources in New York State and the nation. As a federally and state mandated institution located at Cornell University, we are uniquely situated to access scientific and technical resources that are relevant to New York State's and the nation's water management needs. We collaborate with regional, state, and national partners to increase awareness of emerging water resources issues and to develop and assess new water management technologies and policies. WRI connects the water research and water management communities. "
  • Testing the Waters 2014A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches A good trip to the beach promises sun, surf, and relaxation. Visitors should expect to leave sandy and smiling—but not feeling ill. Unfortunately, the water at your local beach might be contaminated by human or animal waste, putting your health at risk: bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in that waste can make exposed swimmers sick. What causes this contamination? Across the country, the largest known contributor to beach closings or health advisory days has historically been stormwater pollution. Untreated sewage spills and overflows are also frequently to blame. This report presents information on water quality at more than 3,000 U.S. beaches along the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Explore the interactive map below to learn about beaches in your community. You can also click here to learn about superstar beaches—popular beaches that routinely have had low bacterial levels. (June 2014) National Resources Defense Council  
  • NRDC: Testing the Waters 2010 "NRDC's annual survey of water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches finds that the number of beach closings and advisories in 2009 hit their sixth-highest level in the 20-year history of the report. The number of closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches topped 18,000 for the fifth consecutive year, confirming that our nation's beaches continue to suffer from bacterial pollution that puts swimmers at risk. Testing the Waters traditionally focuses on information from the previous beach season, but this year, NRDC is providing coverage of current events at beaches in the Gulf in addition to providing information about last year's beachwater quality. Tens of millions of gallons of oil have gushed into Gulf waters from the Deepwater Horizon well, and at the time of this writing, oil has washed up on beaches in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi. NRDC is tracking oil spill-related beach closings, advisories, and notices at Gulf beaches.  " (July 2010) NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense
  • Get the Beach Report: NRDC: Testing the Waters 2009 "A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches | NRDC's annual survey of water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches finds that pollution caused the number of beach closings and advisories to hit their fourth-highest level in the 19-year history of the report. The number of 2008 closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches topped 20,000 for the fourth consecutive year, confirming that our nation's beaches continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk."
  • Citizens Campaign for the Environment: Water Protection -- from CCE - Water Protection Public Health Energy Renewable Policy Toxic Wildlife Chemical Contamination Subscribe Newsletter Jobs Calendar Pollution Air Quality Advocacy Farmingdale White Plains Albany Syracuse Buffalo
  • Find out how to protect Rochester-area water quality: The Watershed: Home of the H2O Hero and your source for water education."What is the story behind H2O Hero? The Water Education Collaborative (WEC) set out to develop an awareness campaign that would educate the residents of the Genesee Valley watershed about the enormous impact they can have on the water quality in our area. WEC leaders teamed up with the Advertising Council of Rochester, a local nonprofit organization that creates awareness campaigns to address community-wide issues. The Ad Council pulled in a volunteer marketing team from SIGMA Marketing Group, and the rest is history."
  • Founded in 1992, the Center for Watershed Protection works with local, state, and federal governmental agencies, environmental consulting firms, watershed organizations, and the general public to provide objective and scientifically sound information on effective techniques to protect and restore urban watersheds.
  • Arsenic in Drinking Water FAQ  Answers to questions including: How can I find out whether my drinking water contains arsenic? Can I buy a filter that will remove arsenic from my water? I drink bottled water -- do I have to worry about arsenic? --from Natural Resources Defense Council. 
  • New York Rural Water Association With over 900 voting members, New York Rural Water Association (NYRWA) is the largest membership organization representing small water/wastewater systems in the state. Our system members include villages, towns, municipal water and sewer districts, county authorities, state and federal institutions/facilities, schools and colleges, investor-owned water utilities, homeowner associations, and privately owned systems such as mobile home parks. Most of our systems serve a population of less than 10,000 each. NYRWA is run by and for rural systems. A volunteer Board of Directors comprised of representatives from rural water/wastewater systems and small communities governs us. In addition, NYRWA has over 135 Associate Members. Our Associate Members include industry suppliers, consultants, and contractors. The support of these companies is a key to NYRWA's success. NYRWA is also affiliated with the National Rural Water Association.
  • NY Water Environment Association, Inc.The New York Water Environment Association, Inc. (NYWEA) was founded in 1929, by professionals in the field of water quality as a non-profit, educational organization. Association members helped lead the way toward existing state and national clean water programs. Today the Association has over 2,500 members representing diverse backgrounds and specialties, but all are concerned and involved with protecting and enhancing our precious water resources.
  • Increase your Environmental Education on fresh clean water. Check out this instructive lesson on where we get our drinking water. Multimedia - where does your water come from? It’s not surprising that so many Americans don’t know where our drinking water comes from. We have long benefitted from sophisticated water infrastructure – networks of pipes and pumps and filtration plants – that bring water from rivers, lakes and natural underground supplies right into our homes. The Nature Conservancy - Protecting Nature, Preserving Life
  • Lead in Drinking Water | Safewater | Water | US EPA "Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. The greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust. But lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to 8 percent lead. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water. "
  • Riverkeeper - NY's Clean Water Advocate "Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and to safeguard the drinking water supply of 9 million New Yorkers. For more than 40 years Riverkeeper has been New York’s clean water advocate. We have helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serve as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than more than 180 Keeper programs across the country and around the globe. "
  • Urban Waters Federal Partnership This partnership will reconnect urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our Nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits --EPA

Tapped Out: New York's Clean Water in Peril (March 2016) Tapped Out: New York’s Clean Water in Peril, documents sewage overflows and the rampant underreporting of such spills in New York State.

The report also documents how underinvestment has lead to a crumbling infrastructure and increased sewage discharges in New York waterways.

A review of data published through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in accordance with the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act of 2012, shows that between May 2013 and June 2015, 2,696 sewage overflows were reported - likely a very conservative figure due to underreporting of incidents.  (From Environmental Advocates of New York.)