New York's Great Lakes lands and waters, including Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River, are a part of the binational Great Lakes ecosystem, spanning eight states and two countries. The lakes supply 20% of the world's fresh surface water, are home to more than 3,500 native species of plants and animals, and support countless local communities and global economies. These important lands and waters are vital to our quality of life, and are valued by those who live, work, and play in this region.

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s Great Lakes Watershed Program works to protect and restore water quality and ecosystem integrity in NY's portion of the Great Lakes and their lands and waters. 

The Great Lakes Watershed Program uses an ecosystem-based management approach to achieve its mission “to protect, restore, conserve, and enhance the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters and associated natural resources within the Great Lakes basin for sustainable use and enjoyment by the people of New York.”

NY’s Great Lakes Action Agenda

Guided by NY's Great Lakes Action Agenda (GLAA), this program works with partners to:

  • Improve environmental quality
  • Conserve and restore natural resources
  • Promote coastal and community resilience to climate change
  • Coordinate science and adaptive management
  • Provide research, education, and training
  • Coordinate community engagement and stewardship
  • Provide and identify grant funding (PDF)


  1. Virtually Eliminate Discharges of Persistent Toxic Substances 
  2. Control Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen Loadings
  3. Accelerate the Delisting of New York’s Areas of Concern
  4. Combat Invasive Species
  5. Conserve and Restore Native Fish and Wildlife Biodiversity and Habitats
  6. Conserve Great Lakes Water Supplies
  7. Enhance Community Resiliency and Ecosystem Integrity
  8. Promote Smart Growth, Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse
  9. Enhance Recreation and Tourism Opportunities
  10. Plan for Energy Development

Implementation of the GLAA relies on partnerships with federal and state agencies, local municipalities, nonprofits, academic and scientific institutions, dedicated volunteers, and other partners. Work under the GLAA is informed and guided by state agency and regional partners throughout the basin. 

GLAA work groups have been formed within each of New York’s Great Lakes four sub-basins and meet on a regular basis to facilitate coordination and collaboration among regional stakeholders working to implement the Action Agenda.

More Information

The Great Lakes Program is funded through the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, under the authority of the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act, the NYS Great Lakes Protection Fund and the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). 

More information on the Great Lakes Watershed Program.


Contact Great Lakes Program Staff to learn more and get involved. Email us at greatlakes [at] dec.ny.gov (greatlakes[at]dec[dot]ny[dot]gov).