of NEW YORK WATERS Maria Maybee
From Great Lakes United
HOW IS THE WATER QUALITY? According to the Environmental Protection Agency's
National Water Quality Inventory 2000 Report: Rivers and Streams: Sixty-three percent of
surveyed river miles fully support their designated uses
and 37% of surveyed river miles are impaired.
Lakes:Only 23% of surveyed
lakes fully support their designated uses and 77% are impaired.
Great Lakes: None of the 374 surveyed Great
Lakes shoreline miles support fish consumption. However,
52% of surveyed shoreline miles support swimming.
Ocean Shoreline: None of the surveyed ocean
shoreline miles support shellfish harvesting.
Estuaries and Bays: All of the surveyed estuary
waters are impaired.
Leading sources of surface water pollution in New York include
agriculture, erosion, urban runoff, combined sewer overflows,
and municipal wastewater treatment plants.
FUNDING One of the most valuable tools available to states
for water quality work is federal financial assistance through
loans and grants. Some of most important sources of
federal funding are administrated by the Environmental Protection
Agency and include the following programs: Clean Water
State Revolving Fund, Water Pollution Control State and
Interstate Program Support (Section 106 Grants), and
Special Needs Support.
Unfortunately, President Bush’s proposed budget for FY 2003
cuts EPA funding for water programs by $524 million, with
significant consequences for individual states. New
York bears $47.2 million of this proposed cut to water quality
(18.1 percent below the current year). For example,
New York’s Clean Water State Revolving
Fund, which maintains sewage treatment, has been drastically
reduced, falling by $15.2 million or 10.2 percent.
In addition, money assisting New York to reduce pollution
loadings into its waterways (Section 106 Grants) was cut
7.1 percent. Funding for New York’s Special
Needs, for which it received $31.6 million in FY 2002, has
been slashed to nothing.
These reductions have very serious implications for state
efforts to improve water quality. As a result, a coalition
of environmental groups is calling for an increase in funding
for EPA water quality programs during the federal appropriations
TOXIC DISCHARGES INTO WATER New York Toxic Releases in 2000: Releases into Surface Waters:8,992,560
pounds Releases into Public Sewage:11,106,518
New York ranks 14thin
the nation for toxic releases into waterways.
CLEAN WATER ENFORCEMENT According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
data January 2000 March 2001:
In total, 96 of New York’s major facilities (27%) were in
significant non-compliance. Of these major facilities, 25
of all major industrial facilities (20.2%) were in significant
non-compliance as well as 69 of all major municipal facilities
New York does not rank high in terms of percentage, but
ranks 3rd in the nation
for number of major facilities in significant non-compliance.
America's wetlands rank among our most vital natural resources.
They purify our drinking water, save our homes from floods,
and protect our coasts.
New York's estimated original 2,562,000 acres of wetlands,
circa 1780, only 1,025,000 acres are estimated to still
exist as of the 1980s, a net loss of 60%.
York has 72 rare wetland-dependent species, such as the
bald eagle and the spotted darter. Of these rare species,
49 are animals and 23 are plants.
economic value of New York’s remaining wetlands is $6.1
COASTAL CONDITIONS The state of New York does not require counties
to test their beach waters. The state’s county health
departments are responsible for making sanitary surveys
of all beaches; it is at their discretion to monitor beaches
and to determine frequency of monitoring. All of the
coastal counties do regular bacterial tests, but only 4
of the 9 counties in New York conduct regular bacterial
testing and monitoring..
In 2001, New York had at least 229 ocean, bay, or Great
Lakes closings/advisories, as well as, two extended, and
four permanent closings/advisories.
DRINKING WATER SYSTEM VIOLATIONS According to EPA's Safe Drinking Water Information
System, between Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001, New York had
293 community water systems with reported health standard
violations. This is 10% of all systems in New York.
Eighteen percent of the population or 3,175,101 people are
served. (Note: Most violations are not reported
according to an October 2000 EPA final report on quality
of data in SDWIS.)
FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES New York had 92 fish consumption advisories in
2001. This is an increase of 3 since 2000. Of these
advisories, 121 were for lakes, 123 for rivers, 11 for coasts,
20 for estuaries, 11 were statewide, and 123 were for the
Nationally 2,618 fish consumption advisories were posted
in 2001. This is 220 less than in 2000 a decrease
of 8%. However, advisories are categorized by geographic
location and the average lake acreage, river miles, and
coastline miles under advisory have increased since 1993.
An alternative analysis of the number of advisories, as
based on species and pollutants, would generate a different
view of each state.
REFERENCES FOR STATE WATER QUALITY FACT
Water Quality Data: U.S. EPA. National Water Quality Inventory 2000 Report.
Toxic Discharge and Enforcement Data: U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Permit to Pollute:
How the Government’s Lax Enforcement of the Clean Water
Act is Poisoning Our Waters. August 2002.
U.S. EPA. 2000 Toxic Release Inventory Fact Sheets.
Wetlands Data: Dahl, T.E. Wetlands Losses in the United States,
1780’s to 1980’s. U.S. Department of Interior, Fish
and Wildlife Service. Washington D.C., 13 pp., 1990.
The Nature Conservancy and the International Network of
Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.
National Heritage Central Databases. January 2000.
Coastal Data: Natural Resources Defense Council. Testing the Waters
2002: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.
Funding Data: U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Budget of
theU.S. Government Fiscal Year 2003, Budget
Information for States. July 2002.
Drinking Water Data: U.S. EPA. Data Reliability Analysis of the EPA Safe
Drinking Water Information System, Federal Version (SDWIS/FED).
Fish Consumption Data: U.S. EPA. Listing of Fish and Wildlife Consumption
What you can do?
Acquisition Acquiring legal title to property by purchase, donation,
easements, or other method.
Advocacy Writing comment letters, telephoning, building coalitions
to influence state, local, or federal laws, regulations,
and policies. Volunteering on citizens committees, getting
elected to positions where you can be a wetlands advocate.
Education Helping people understand the value of wetlands and
why they are worth protecting.
Land Use Activity Influencing local or state planning efforts such as
comprehensive plans, watershed planning, and local ordinances
for wetlands protection.
Legal Action Filing Clean Water Act citizen suits or administrative
or judicial challenges to local, state, or federal decisions.
Networking Creating alliances, sharing information and data, working
together on project proposals and advocacy positions, and
mentoring. We are stronger and more effective working together.
Permit Review Reviewing and commenting in writing or orally on local,
state, or federal permits that affect the wetlands in your
Restoration Restoring wetland functions to a former wetland through
planting or hydrological modifications to the system such
as removing dikes or barriers. "Enhancement" refers
to activities conducted in existing wetlands to increase
Science Mapping wetlands, conducting inventories of birds and
other wetland-dependent species, monitoring water levels,
and other projects to gather data that can be used to protect
wetlands. Strategies include citizen science, professional
studies, and science reviewers to analyze the data and studies
that government agencies produce for permits and policy
Stewardship Creating Wetlands Watch programs and other projects
to help protect wetlands on an ongoing basis.
Visibility Holding press conferences, wetland tours, and other
public events to deliver a clear and consistent message
about wetlands protection and your particular wetland. This
can also include testifying at local town meetings and other
forums where you can give wetlands a voice.
September 13, 2000 - National Audubon Society 1901 Pennsylvania
Avenue NW #1100 Washington, DC 20006 202-861-2242
Habitat and Biodiversity Program Coordinator
Great Lakes United
Cassety Hall- Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
ph: (716) 886-0142 fax:-0303
All life is
Water is life.
This information is posted
for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S.
Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you
must obtain permission from the copyright owner.