Newsletter Sign-up Email a Friend Printer Friendly Format Translate This Page Text Size Small Medium Large

New York Harbor Water Quality Survey

The City of New York has been collecting water quality data in New York Harbor since 1909. These data are utilized by regulators, scientists, educators and citizens to assess impacts, trends and improvements in the water quality of New York Harbor.

The Harbor Survey Program has been the responsibility of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's (NYCDEP) Marine Sciences Section (MSS) for the past 22 years. This effort evolved from the initial surveys by the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission that began 98 years ago and encompassed 12 stations around Manhattan. These initial surveys were performed in response to public complaints about their quality of life near polluted waterways. The initial effort has grown into a Survey that consists of 62 stations; 35 stations located throughout the open waters of the Harbor, and upwards of 27 stations located in smaller tributaries within the City. The number of water quality parameters measured has also increased from five in 1909 to over 20 at present.

Harbor water quality has improved dramatically since the initial surveys. Infrastructure improvements and the capture and treatment of virtually all dry-weather sewage are the primary reasons for this improvement. During the last decade, water quality in NY harbor has improved to the point that the waters are now utilized for recreation and commerce throughout the year. Still, there remain areas within the harbor that are impaired.

The NYCDEP's Long Term Control Program (LTCP) has begun to focus on those areas within the harbor that remain impacted. This project will look at 18 waterbodies and their drainage basins and will develop a comprehensive plan for each waterbody.

This year's Harbor Survey report focuses on the water quality data collected by the NYCDEP during 2008. Data are presented in four sections, each delineating a geographic region within the Harbor.

The Harbor Survey is in the midst of a transition in the way these data will be presented. The Survey is transitioning to a geographic information system (GIS) that will allow for more accurate maps and more detailed analyses. The Survey is also working on a data distribution system that should allow a more streamlined method of displaying and accessing both historical and current data generated by the program.


Past years

Last updated March 29, 2007

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600