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Sewage Discharge Reports FAQs

Who issues discharge alerts?

The municipality who owns the sewer or treatment works where a sewage discharge takes place issues the alert through NY-Alert. Each municipality registered to use NY-Alert has at least one individual designated as a notifier. DEC does not issue alerts.

Who decides if a discharge is a public health problem?

The Department of Health (DOH) determines if beaches should be closed or water supply systems may be affected. DOH is notified at the time of the initial report. DEC does not make the decision on public health issues.

Why are so many fields estimated?

The law does not require municipalities to spend money on monitoring systems. They are to use existing systems and models to estimate times and volumes. Most CSO communities do not have the ability to provide the precise information on when, or how long CSOs discharge.

Why does it look like the same report is being issued?

Identical information is an indication that a template is being used. This is common for CSO outfalls and many SSO points that are under order for mitigation. DEC recommended that each community develop a NY-Alert template to use when they anticipate rain that might trigger a combined sewer overflow from their system.

What is the department's response to these discharges?

NY-Alert is the notification tool for municipalities to let the DEC, DOH and the public know that a discharge has recently occurred. DEC and DOH determine what to do about discharges after consulting with the municipality. The data is a rough estimate based on the information the operator of the system has at the time of the discharge. Municipalities still need to submit a 5-day report as required by part 750.

Why are the overflows happening more frequently?

Overflows are not necessarily occurring more frequently. NY-Alert notifications are bringing more attention to discharges. Discharge frequency is closely related to wet weather patterns.

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