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NYC Watershed Regulations

The quality of drinking water supplied to New York City and dozens of neighboring upstate communities depends primarily on the quality of the streams and rivers which feed the water supply reservoirs. These source waters are vulnerable to degradation and contamination from various watershed land uses, development activities, and assorted land management practices.

Under authority granted by New York State’s Public Health Law, DEP has enacted regulations to protect the existing high quality of the New York City water supply and preserve it from future degradation. These Rules and Regulations for the Protection from Contamination, Degradation and Pollution of the New York City Water Supply and its Sources apply to all of the following activities when they occur within the watershed:

  • Residential septic systems;
  • Intermediate-sized wastewater treatment systems;
  • Wastewater treatment plants;
  • Construction of a paved driveway or other impervious surfaces adjacent to a stream;
  • Crossing, diverting or piping a stream;
  • Construction of a house or other structure adjacent to a stream or watercourse;
  • Connection to an existing sewer system with a service lateral;
  • A land clearing or land grading project, involving two or more acres, located at least in part within the limiting distance of 100 feet of a watercourse or wetland, or within the limiting distance of 300 feet of a reservoir, reservoir stem or controlled lake or on a slope exceeding 15 percent;
  • Application and storage of fertilizers;
  • Discharge from agricultural activities;
  • Siting of junkyards or solid waste management facilities; and
  • Discharge or storage of other hazardous materials, petroleum products, pesticides, highway maintenance materials, or other sewage.

In general, watershed activities that meet the above regulatory criteria require DEP to review and approve a project application that is completed and submitted by the entity seeking to conduct the activity—this can be a landowner, business, municipality, etc. Some projects may require the applicant to develop and submit to DEP a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan or Individual Residential Stormwater Plan. Certain regulated projects may also require that a permit be issued by the applicable local, City, State or federal agency.

What’s New

Reservoir Levels

Current: 70.4%

Normal: 72.7%