New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation Division of Water Interstate Basin Commission Administration Files

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

The series documents New York's participation in several interstate sanitary and water pollution control commissions including those related to following draingage basins: boundry waters, Delaware River, Susquehanna River, Ohio River Valley, and Great Lakes. The files include correspondence, memoranda, minutes of meetings and hearings, transcripts, analytical data, and investigation studies. Maps, diagrams, and some photographs are also present, most often in copies of commission reports, promotional literature, or special research projects.
18 cu. ft. (including ca. 40 maps): photocopies, print copies; bulk 22 x 28 cm.
Inclusive Dates:
Bulk Dates:
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Alphabetical by commission name and therein by committee or subject, therein sometimes chronological.

Administrative History

Interstate basin commissions were formed to formulate policies and programs for development of watershed resources; to promote the orderly and integrated development and conservation of water resources; to prevent, abate, and control water pollution; and to regulate the disposal of wastes in interstate river drainage basins. A drainage basin is the entire tract of land drained by a river and its tributaries, commonly called a watershed. When drainage basins extend beyond state boundaries control of water pollution becomes a matter of interstate cooperation and planning. These commissions were established through either federal or state law to regulate the disposal of wastes and maintain or improve the quality of water resources found in the basins.

Scope and Content Note

The series documents New York's participation in several interstate sanitary and water pollution control commissions. The commissions for which files are present include: International Joint Commission on Control of Pollution of Boundary Waters; Interstate Sanitary Commission; Delaware River Basin Commission; Interstate Commission on the Delaware River Basin; New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission; Susquehanna River Basin Commission; Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission; and Great Lakes Basin Commission.

A variety of records are found in the series. Committee and subject files generally include correspondence of the commission, including notices and minutes of annual and semi-annual meetings. Personnel and organizational memoranda include material on election of officers, membership, appointment of commissioners and advisors, committee assignments, budgets and summaries of expenses, and the publication and dissemination of reports. Files of water quality advisory committees, sub-committees, and commission executive committees (e.g., steel industry action committee, engineering committee, concerned municipal officials), include memoranda on water quality standards, various waste water problems, schedules of meetings, the composition/change in committees, and reviews of meeting minutes.

Narrative summaries (often with tables) of water conditions in the river basins, include information on precipitation, natural watershed runoff, mean discharge of rivers, total storage of reservoirs, exports of water (from river basins to water supply systems, from creeks to rivers in the basin, etc.), ground water levels, and water temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen levels. Other narrative summaries (often with figures and tables) document activities such as emergency operations, release/discharge of water, diversions to the water supply, monitoring instruments removed for modification, reservoir storage availability, and work items, giving the responsible agency and status reports.

Other records include pollution abatement activity files documenting policies and requirements of agencies regarding waste water discharge into watersheds, policy statements and resolutions regarding liquid waste treatment, copies of reciprocal agreements for correction and control of pollution of the interstate waters as embodied by laws and legislation, memoranda on the nature of the state's relationship to commissions, rules of practice and procedure, and copies of legal authority establishing the commissions and pertinent laws and compacts.

Other files in the series include occasional files of a survey tour and/or conference that led to the establishment of a commission, sometimes including its articles of organization; memoranda on adoption and/or revision of water quality criteria, including classifications and standards of quality for interstate waters; files on water quality conferences, including meeting organization, attendance, and results; copies of comprehensive plans for water pollution control or for a water resources program, sometimes including copies of environmental impact statements prepared in compliance with federal review procedures; transcripts of proceedings of public hearings of the commission; municipal and industrial waste control status lists, including tables of industrial discharges, memoranda on the status of industrial polluters, compliance timetables, and lists of the (usually negative) status of communities starting construction or operation of treatment facilities; and files on public affairs programs and promotional efforts (e.g., crusades for clean water), including educational films, posters, radio spot announcements, advertisements in technical journals, and various commission publications/newsletters.

The non-textual material found in the series is generally in support of reports, written plans, and promotional materials. They are most often photocopies or parts of brochures. They include: maps (often in promotional literature) illustrating environmental planning activities (e.g., establishment of greenways, recreation resources) or the regions included in a particular citizen's association or regional study group; maps in environmental impact statements illustrating proposed projects (e.g., accident sites, peak hours of traffic, and geographic patterns in construction of access roads and water and sewer lines for a proposed industrial park); and U.S. Geological Survey water supply data sheets from river gauging stations.

Other non-textual material includes diagrams, often in advisory or sub-committee reports and brochures (e.g., showing surface temperatures of thermal discharge of waters downstream from a power plant); and aerial photographs found in one special report by the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory on application of remote sensing to water pollution research, including multibank photographs showing wind direction and the presence of contaminants and effluent discharges by monitoring water discoloration.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Processing Information

This collection's description was enhanced as a part of the New York State Archives Environmental History Virtual Research Collection Project, 2004. The National Endowment for the Humanities provided funding for this project.

Access Terms

Corporate Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):

Detailed Description

Dates Contents Box

Accretion: A1118-80
Delaware River Basin Commission 1
Delaware River Basin Commission 2
Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River Board 3
Great Lakes Commission 4
Great Lakes Commission 5
1949-1954 International Joint Commission - Advisory Board Minutes and Miscellaneous Reports 6
1928-1973 International Joint Commission - Advisory Board Minutes, 1948-1958; International Joint Commission - Subject and Correspondence, 1928-1973 7
International Joint Commission - Subject Files 8
1957-1962 Joint Legislative Committees; International Commission on the Delaware River Basin - Meeting Files, 1957-1962; International Commission on the Delaware River Basin - Advisory Committee Files 9
International Commission on the Delaware River Basin; Interstate Sanitation Commission 10
1962-1968 Dept. of Health. Division of Pure Waters - Water Quality Reports 11
Interstate Sanitation Commission 12
Interstate Commission on the Lake Champlain Basin; New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission 13
1962-1971 New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission 14
Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission 15
Susquehanna River Basin Commission 16
1959-1970 Water Resources Commission - Meeting Files, 1959-1970; Water Resources Commission - Subcommittee Files 17
Water Resources Commission - Meeting Files, Subject Files 18