Water Quality - IEC's Programs

The Interstate Environmental Commission’s water and air pollution abatement programs continue to focus on the effective coordination of approaches to regional problems. The IEC is continually working towards building and reinforcing lines of communication with the US Environmental Protection Agency and its three member States’ environmental and health departments.

To achieve in its mission and its goals, the IEC is involved in areas such as water and air pollution, resource recovery facilities and toxics. Nonetheless, the Commission’s continuing emphasis is on water quality—an area in which the Commission is a regulatory and enforcement agency. The Commission has programs that lead to opening and/or keeping open waters for swimming, shellfishing and fishing. Moreover, these programs focus in establishing a suitable habitat for aquatic species to continue living and reproducing under appropriate conditions.

The Commission’s programs include regulation and enforcement to assure compliance with the Tri-State Compact and the Commission’s Water Quality Regulations; minimization of the effects of combined sewers, storm sewers, and municipal separate storm sewer systems; participation in the National Estuary Program; public involvement, education and outreach; control of floatables; compliance monitoring; pretreatment of industrial wastes; toxics contamination; sludge disposal; dredged material disposal; monitoring the ambient waters—especially with regard to opening new areas for swimming and commercial or recreational shellfishing; and addressing specific environmental deficiencies and other needs that may arise.


Regulation and Enforcement

The Interstate Environmental Commission remains proactive in the enforcement of its Water Quality Regulations by conducting both ambient and compliance monitoring; collecting and analyzing samples; being active in research; and engaging in legal activities whenever necessary.

The staff of the Commission conducts compliance monitoring in which wastewater treatment and industrial facilities discharging into the Commission’s District are investigated throughout the year, in coordination with the NYSDEC, NJDEP, CTDEP, and USEPA. The Commission's nationally certified laboratory performs analyses on samples collected at municipal, private, and industrial wastewater treatment facilities. Data sets generated by these investigations are used to determine compliance with applicable regulations.

The Commission’s staff performs a variety of ambient water quality surveys. With the exception of a few unique agreements, the Commission's nationally certified laboratory has been performing analyses on samples collected during ambient water quality surveys. Data generated by these monitoring efforts are used to determine use attainability as well as compliance with applicable regulations.


The IEC engages in legal activities in coordination with its member states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Day-to-day legal activities are geared towards enforcing the IEC’s Water Quality Regulations and ensuring their inclusion in discharge permits. Furthermore, the Commission assures continued participation in administrative hearings and involvement in and/or oversight of Consent Orders.


Regional Participation

The Commission has continued its active participation and commitment to regional planning efforts. The IEC has supported the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (NY-NJ HEP) and the Long Island Sound Study (LISS). Both of these regional planning efforts are parts of the National Estuary Program. Several special intensive surveys in support of these programs have also been completed by the IEC. In one of these special intensive surveys, the Commission’s staff has been documenting, aboard the IEC's research vessel, the R/V Natale Colosi, hypoxic conditions in western Long Island Sound and the upper East River. The information collected is used to measure the effectiveness of management activities and programs implemented under the LISS Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.

  Regional Participation 

The Commission coordinates the efforts of the Regional Bypass Workgroup which is comprised of sixteen federal, interstate, state, county and local agencies. The Workgroup maintains notification protocols to inform each other of unplanned bypasses and, based upon a mathematical model (the Regional Bypass Model), especially developed to predict the effects of those bypasses, determines if area beaches and shellfish beds should be closed to protect the health of the public.

The IEC also remains an active participant in volunteer monitoring workshops and interacts with citizen advisory committees throughout the District. The Commission has been involved with research proposal committees, science and technical advisory committees, the production of newsletters, tracking reports and fact sheets. In this regard, the IEC is a member of the New Jersey Water Monitoring Coordination Council.


Public Education and Outreach

The IEC has a broad program of public education and public outreach with citizen groups and governmental agencies. As part of this program, the Commission staff lectures to all levels of school students and has recently sponsored and co-sponsored several conferences on a variety of topics including the Fresh Kills Landfill (the world's largest landfill located on Staten Island, New York); combined sewer overflows (CSOs); bathing beach criteria; the NYWEA's annual legislative forum in Albany with key legislators participating; and, most recently, the Hudson River Environmental Society's conference celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

  Public Education and Outreach 

IEC’s library holdings and archives continue to provide an accessible regional depository of water and air quality related subjects. The Commission’s current and historical holdings have been sought and made available to the academic community, consulting engineering firms, attorneys, environmental and public awareness groups, government agencies across the nation, and international entities. The IEC’s laboratory makes available its facilities, and the guidance of its staff, to students enrolled in the Masters Degree program of the Center for Environmental Science at the College of Staten Island, in order to work collaboratively on joint projects and in tandem, pursue their Masters degree.Back to Top ^


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