Proposed Rule Change for E. coli, Enterococci, and the Reclassification of New York Bay

The NYSDEC has issued a notice of public hearing to permit holders and municipal officials who are State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit holders. The notice serves to alert permit holders who discharge to the Great Lakes or open marine waters of the state (not including the Harlem, East, or Hudson Rivers) that they may be affected by a proposed rule change to 6NYCRR Parts 700, 703, and 890.

Why the Change?Talk to the experts about suspected contamination

In order to meet the requirements of the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, New York State is updating its pathogen standards for the Great Lakes and coastal recreation waters. The water quality standards will now include thresholds for Escherichia coli (E. coli) for the Great Lakes coastal recreation waters and Enterococcus for marine coastal recreation waters. When present in water, these pathogens represent a risk of disease to humans. E. coli is measured in fresh water, while enterococci is measured in salt water (marine) ecosystems.

In addition to the change of water quality standards, the NYSDEC is proposing to reclassify the marine waters of New York Bay in order to provide further protection to bathing beaches in the surrounding area. It is proposed to change the class of New York Bay from Class I (boating and fishing use) to Class SB (boating, fishing, and swimming use). The Harbor would become coastal recreation water, which means the Enterococci standards, and a more stringent Dissolved Oxygen (DO) standard would apply.

Who is Affected?Pathogen Risk

Any SPDES permits related to sites adjacent to the coastal recreation waters described above were reviewed by the NYSDEC to understand if discharge limits would need to be changed and if these proposed changes would result in any expense. According to the NYSDEC, no significant adjustments or regulatory impacts are anticipated as a result of the proposed adoption of E. coli standards in the Great Lakes and the changed DO standard that would result from the reclassification of New York Bay.

However, the proposed adoption of enterococci standards to the open marine waters in the downstate area is expected to result in increased capital and operations and maintenance costs. This proposed rule could affect SPDES permit holders who discharge to marine coastal recreation waters.

NYSDEC Public Hearing Information SPDES Update

Two public hearings will be held by the DEC to accept oral and written comments regarding the proposed rule change:

Tuesday June 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm at NYSDEC Region 8 Office
6274 East Avon-Lima Road, Avon, NY 14414

Thursday June 7, 2018 at 2:00 pm at NYSDEC Region 2 Office,
8th Floor, Room 834
47-40 21stStreet, Long Island City, NY 11101

Ask the ExpertsConsulting Engineer for Environmental Reglations

If you are a SPDES permit holder who thinks you are going to be affected by this proposed rule change, give Walden a call at (516) 624-7200 to see how we can help! Check out our website for our other environmental services.