New York State Division of Pure Waters Interstate Water Quality Standards 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

This series contains files on the establishment of enforceable water quality standards for interstate and coastal waters. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1965 required each state to adopt water quality standards applicable to interstate waters within or on its borders. The Department of Health's Division of Pure Waters drafted the New York standards. Files include reports, hearing summaries, correspondence, memorandums, and maps.
1 cubic foot (including 88 maps): photocopies, some folded; bulk 22 x 28 cm.
Inclusive Dates:
Series Number:


Arranged by subject and therein alphabetical by name of state, river or lake.

Scope and Content Note

The series contains files on the establishment of enforceable water quality standards for interstate and coastal waters. Such standards were required by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1965 which required each state to adopt, after public hearings, water quality standards applicable to interstate waters within or on its borders.

If the Secretary of the Interior determined that a state had adopted water quality criteria and an enforcement plan consistent with the act, these then became the water quality standards for interstate waters within the state. The act was designed to encourage and support states in establishing water quality standards in order to protect public health, prevent the spread of pollution, and to improve water quality.

The New York standards were drafted by the Department of Health's Division of Pure Waters. Before the creation of the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970, the Health Department had responsibility for monitoring and regulating water and air pollution and waste management. The standards accounted for the use or value of the interstate waters for public water supplies, propagation of fish and wildlife, recreational purposes, and agricultural and industrial uses. Thus, local standards relate directly to the quality of waters that may receive effluent or discharge, and standards were prerequisite to obtaining federal money for needed waste treatment works.

The files include memorandums, correspondence, reports, hearing summaries and minutes, and some maps. The records include files on conference hearings on proposed water quality standards in various states (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont), including statements made by New York representatives, notices of public hearings, copies of river and tributary classifications, and state reports containing basin descriptions, survey programs, and recommendations on necessary pollution abatement; memorandums and correspondence on transmittal and receipt of water quality standards and time schedules, and reports (sometimes including revisions) on pollution control and abatement for rivers and lakes, including the Allegany, Hudson, Niagara, St. Lawrence, Connecticut, Delaware, and Susquehanna rivers and lakes Erie and Ontario; general correspondence on design of interstate water quality standards, including implementation plans, drainage basin classification criteria, and letters on the availability and mailings of the standards and related reports; memorandums on state policy on various hearings and meetings with interstate agencies and assignment of state representatives to interstate commissions;

meeting summaries of the state's interdepartmental Mapping Advisory Committee; correspondence and memorandums regarding surveys, evaluation of sewage treatment plants and pollution control and enforcement plans for coastal waters; federal water pollution control guidelines and approval of New York's water quality standards reports, including the work of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, and discussions of the implementation and interpretation of federal enforcement and regulatory authority; and scattered copies of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration's project registers, giving monthly summaries of state projects approved under the Water Pollution Control Act (Public Law 660, 84th Congress).

The maps found in the series are primarily of areas outside of New York State that are covered by the interstate water basins. They are almost exclusively photocopies of maps printed in reports (sometimes they appear to have been annotated before photocopying). Title, legend, and scale information varies when present. These maps typically show streams subject to establishment of water quality criteria, river and drainage basin classifications, important sources of pollution, water use classes, and location of sampling stations, coastal streams, and watershed areas. The maps ranging from 22 x 28 cm to 69 x 84 cm, with the larger maps often folded into the reports.

In addition, there are two folders containing information particularly pertaining to maps. The first includes information on the Mapping Advisory Committee. This interdepartmental committee was set up by Governor Rockefeller when he designated the Department of Transportation as the official clearinghouse for all mapping programs in the state (to eliminate duplication and expense in state mapping programs). The committee noted that the Department of Transportation maintained a supply of U.S. Geological Survey maps, and that requests for copies should be made to them.

The second folder deals with the U.S.G.S. and contains copies of the index map to the status of its topographic maps published as of 1970 (series 1:24,000), as well as information on their preparation and distribution. Also included are copies of water resources investigations conducted by the U.S.G.S. in New York and in the Susquehanna River basin. The New York State map prepared for these investigations gives locations of the U.S.G.S. hydrologic station network (sites at which periodic measurements are made or samples collected for analysis), and also information on observation wells, quality of water collection sites, active areal projects, and the estimated use of water in New York (in 1960). The backs of the state maps contain extensive information, including a chronological index to reports of investigations, several tables, and (on the New York map) several smaller state maps illustrating water bearing formations, average annual runoff, and average discharge of principal streams.

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