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Sewage Pollution Right to Know

The 2013 Sewage Pollution right to Know (SPRTK) requires untreated and partially treated sewage discharges to be reported by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) within two hours of discovery to DEC and within four hours of discovery to the public and adjoining municipalities. The regulations for implementing SPRTK can be found in 6 NYCRR Part 750.

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Why do untreated and partially treated sewage discharges occur?

Sewage that does not reach the treatment facility or is not treated may pollute waterbodies. Sewage may leave the system before being treated due to:

  • Weather (heavy rains or snowmelt)
  • Sewer system blockages
  • Insufficient system capacity
  • Structural, mechanical or electrical failures
  • Collapsed or broken sewer pipes
  • Vandalism

Additionally, the older a collection system is, the more likely it is to experience sewage discharges. Of New York State's over 35,000 miles of sewers, approximately 40% are more than 60 years old. About 10% were built before 1925. Nearly 65% of sewers more than 60 years old experience overflow events.

Affected Municipalities

There are over 600 municipally owned wastewater treatment facilities in New York State, and more that 200 additional municipalities own pipes that send sewage to treatment facilities owned by other municipalities. Is your municipality registered (Excel Spreadsheet, 43 KB) to submit reports through NY-Alert?

Avoid Recreation in Sewage Pollution

Notifications of sewage discharges help the public avoid boating, fishing or swimming in waterbodies that may contain illness causing bacteria.

Highlighting Infrastructure Needs

Reporting and tracking where sewage pollution enters waterbodies will build awareness about where wastewater infrastructure upgrades may be needed, including sewer replacement and updated technology at wastewater treatment plants.

What's in the Reports?

Municipalities must report (to the extent knowable using existing systems and models):

  • Date/Time of Discharge - approximate date and time that the discharge started
  • Location of Discharge - to the maximum level of specificity possible
  • Duration of Discharge - estimation of expected duration of discharge
  • Volume of Discharge - estimation of the volume of discharge
  • Treated State of Discharge - Untreated, Primary Treatment with Disinfection, or Primary Treatment without Disinfection
  • Reason(s) for Discharge - information about why the discharge occurred
  • Description of Corrective Action(s) - Brief summary of the preventive or corrective actions taken to contain the discharge

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