The New York–New Jersey Harbor Estuary is the biggest public resource in the nation’s largest and most densely developed metropolitan area. Managing this public resource and its many services and uses is the shared responsibility of at least five core federal agencies; two states; 11 major sewerage agencies; hundreds of counties, cities and towns; and millions of property owners. Critical stakeholders include maritime businesses and several hundred civic and community-based organizations.
HEP brings these partners together to work collaboratively to develop and implement an Action Agenda that advances progress towards five long-term goals. Click on the goals in the list below to learn more.
- Reduce the sources of pollution so that the waters of the harbor estuary will meet the fishable/swimmable goal of the clean water act, where attainable;
- Protect and restore the vital habitat, ecological function, and biodiversity, that provides society with renewed and increased benefits;
- Improve public access to the waters of the estuary and the quality of experience at public spaces along the waterfront;
- Support port and associated maritime operations so that they are both economically and ecologically viable; and
- Foster community understanding and involvement in decisions about the estuary
HEP's Partners and Scope
HEP’s unique role of convening partners, producing and disseminating science and data, and advancing better management across many jurisdictional boundaries and interests is supported by core funding provided by the Clean Water Act and directed by a guiding Policy Committee, including the Regional Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Commander of the New York District of the United State Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Commissioners of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as well as other public and private stakeholders.
HEP takes a watershed approach to address its management goals and the geographic scope of the Program extends to the watersheds of the rivers that drain to the harbor, notably the Hudson, Raritan, Passaic and Hackensack. Because of common challenges and opportunities, HEP is focused on the tidal waters of the Estuary south of the Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge.
HEP is one of 28 National Estuary Programs established by Section 320 of the Clean Water Act and a partner in the Association of National Estuary Programs.
HEP’s 2017 – 2025 Action Agenda
The Action Agenda presents the shared priorities of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) and the commitment of the program and HEP’s partners to address them. It describes our five long-term generational goals, and the specific 17 objectives and the 40 actions that the Program will address to continue progress towards cleaner water, restored fish and wildlife habitat, improved public access, more efficient maritime activities, and robust community engagement. The specific Goals, Objectives and Actions were created through a series of discussions and review with HEP’s government, utility, civic and academic partners and the public, including 25 outreach events—large and small—organized by HEP and more than 30 civic partners that launched the creation of the Action Agenda. Its findings are supported by HEP’s other core documents, including a State of the Estuary Report, Monitoring Plan, and assessments of funding options and climate vulnerability. The end date of the current Action Agenda was extended from 2022 to 2025 to enable additional progress on priorities and align completion with an anticipated Action Agenda revision in 2025.
Please view the Action Agenda and supporting documents below.
HEP Watershed Scope
The geographic scope of HEP extends to the watersheds of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. The Harbor Estuary is distinguished from the rest of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary by its saline waters and urban character.
Scroll down to learn more about HEP’s working committees, annual conferences, and Urban Waters Partnerships.