The State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit program was authorized by Article 17 of the Environmental Conservation Law, with the intent of protecting New York State’s water resources from contamination. The SPDES program intends to protect humans, fish, and other wildlife by preventing unwanted discharges to both groundwater and surface water.
Who is subject to the requirements of the SPDES program, and who is exempt?
In New York State, those who build or utilize a discharge pipe or other type of outlet which discharges wastewater into ground or surface waters, or build or operate a sewage treatment plant or other disposal system, must obtain a SPDES Multi-Sector General Permit (SPDES Permit) in order to comply with State law. The exemption to the requirement is for treatment systems that contain a wastewater design flow of less than 1,000 gallons per day (not including treatment systems that handle non-sewage or industrial wastes).
Facilities that are subject to SPDES Permit requirements but discharge between 1,000 and 10,000 gallons per day of treated sanitary sewage have the potential to qualify as a minor project, and may fall under requirements of the NYSDEC General Permit: GP-0-15-001; facilities that are located within NYSDEC Region 1 (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) are not eligible for this permit. Major projects refer to those that do not meet the requirements of a minor project, and fall under the requirements of the NYSDEC General Permit: GP-0-17-004.
In order to get SPDES Permit coverage, a Notice of Intent (NOI) is required to be filed with the NYSDEC. Filing of the NOI requires preparation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which must be prepared and implemented at each respective facility.
Once a SPDES Permit is obtained, what must be done to stay in compliance?
1. Perform periodic water sampling (as required)
Depending on specific permit requirements, you may be subject to quarterly and/or semi-annual sampling requirements. The analyses performed shall be on a site-specific basis.
2. Perform a visual assessment of stormwater discharge
Water samples must be collected at least once a quarter and visually observed for characteristics including clarity, color, odor, sheen, floating solids, suspended solids, etc.
3. Perform a routine facility inspection (quarterly and annually)
The current monitoring period ends June 30th, and pertains to facilities with both quarterly and semi-annual reporting requirements; all required monitoring activities must be completed by then. The associated Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) shall be submitted no later than July 28th, and are required to be sent in through the NetDMR electronic system (cannot be submitted by paper).