Thursday, June 23, 2016

DEC Announces Final Sewage Pollution Right to Know Regulations

lake champlain no swimming signNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation has finalized regulations needed to implement the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act. The goal of this regulation is to make it easier for municipalities to notify the public of sewage discharges in their areas.

Under the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, publicly owned treatment works and publicly owned sewer systems are required to notify DEC within two hours of a sewage discharge. Through the NY-Alert system, municipalities are expected to make the information available to the public and neighboring municipalities. Alerts are available via text messages, emails and/or telephone calls, to keep residents informed about sewage overflows, and the new funding available will help municipalities comply with the law.

DEC partnered with the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to enhance the electronic NY-Alert notification system so that reporting is free of charge to municipalities and the media, and the broadcasting of sewage spill alerts is rapidly available. NY-Alert is used by New York State agencies and municipalities for public safety messaging.

In addition to the regulations, DEC announced that it is accepting applications from municipalities for the Sewage Pollution Right to Know CSO Grant. Through this grant program, $500,000 is available to assist communities with the detection, monitoring and reporting of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) to enhance compliance with the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act. Individual grants of up to $50,000 will be provided, and the deadline to submit applications has been extended until August 26, 2016.

Through the final regulations, DEC is now requiring municipalities to report all wet weather CSO discharges in their community, and this grant program is designed to help those communities comply with the new requirement.

Regulation-related documents can be found on DEC’s website. Information about the Sewage Pollution Right to Know grant program is also available on DEC’s website. For instructions on how to sign up for alerts, visit the Sewage Pollution Right to Know web page at DEC’s website.

Photo courtesy Lake Champlain International.

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