Sewage Discharge Reporting Toolbox
Guidance materials for authorized NY-Alert notifiers are posted under the NY-Alert Guidance Materials header on this page.
Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) and Publicly Owned Sewer Systems (POSSs) are required to notify DEC and Department of Health within two hours of discovery of an untreated or partially treated sewage discharge. This page contains information and reference material that will help POTWs and POSSs be in compliance with the law.
What Needs to Be Reported
The 2-hour discharge report should be submitted by the chief operator or other facility representative. The following types of discharges must to be reported to DEC and the local health department or NYS Department of Health within 2 hours of discovery:
- Untreated or partially treated sewage from Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) and Publicly Owned Sewer Systems (POSSs)
Discharges of partially treated sewage directly from a POTW that is in compliance with a DEC approved plan or permit are exempt from the reporting requirement.
The 2-hour reporting requirement fulfills the current 24 hour oral reporting requirement, as defined by Incident Reporting, Part 750-2.7. DEC staff will forward the discharge report to the appropriate Regional Water Engineer. A written report of the discharge is required within 5 days, as defined by Incident Reporting, Part 750-2.7.
DEC posts information from the sewage discharge reports on the Sewage Discharge Reports web page. The report includes the following information about each discharge:
- facility name,
- volume and treated state,
- date and time discovered,
- expected duration,
- any corrective actions taken to contain the discharge,
- receiving waterbody,
- reason for the event
The information is available to the general public, including adjoining municipalities.
Application Forms for POTWs and POSSs to Use the NY-Alert System
To assist in complying with the law, DEC has worked with the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to modify the NY-Alert system to accommodate reporting sewage releases and distribution of this information to the public. The principal executive officer or ranking elected officer for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) are required to:
- complete and sign the POTW Notifier Application (PDF, 88 KB) and/or POSS Registration and Notifier Application (PDF, 73 KB) to authorize at least two staff people to submit reports to the NY-Alert system, or
- instruct each authorized staff person to complete and sign the Notifier Agreement (included in the application) and to review the Terms and Conditions (PDF, 71 KB) for Use of the NY-Alert System to Implement the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act
Instructions to complete and submit the application are included in the application document. If more than two notifiers will be authorized, print and complete the needed number of Notifier Agreement pages.
In Part C of the application, the applicant may enter the contact information of the adjoining municipalities to receive automatic notifications; if additional pages are needed, complete the Automatic Notifications Supplement for SPRTK Act (PDF, 51 KB).
NY-Alert Guidance Materials and Videos
The documents and videos are intended to help authorized individuals to send sewage discharge notifications using the NY-Alert system. This page will be updated with more guidance videos as they are developed. All video links go to DEC's YouTube Videos.
- Notifier Manual for Reporting Sewage Discharges (PDF, 477 KB)--step by step instructions on how to use NY-Alert to report sewage discharges
- Instructions on how to report sewage discharges using NY-Alert--this video is a step by step guide to help notifiers use the NY-Alert system to report sewage discharges. Transcript for the how to report sewage discharges (PDF, 50 KB) video.
The NY-Alert system is an existing notification system that is used by several hundred NY agencies to alert the public. The system is free for POTWs and POSSs to use and there is no cost to the public to sign up and receive alerts. A single online form through the NY-Alert system will be used to notify the appropriate parties for 2 hour notification and the public for the 4 hour notification. The form may also be completed using a smart phone.
Implementation of the NY-Alert System
POTWs and POSSs will complete and submit applications to use NY-Alert to DEC. Applications will be approved and entered into a database. Approved applicants will be sent a confirmation letter that will include information about:
- what registered users can expect to receive from NY-Alert
- instructions on how to log on to NY-Alert
- where to find information about training and
- when they should begin using the system
DEC expects full use of the NY-Alert system in early 2015.
For Facilities in Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester Counties
Publicly owned treatment works and publicly owned sewer systems located in the counties listed above should use the reporting system developed by their respective county to meet their reporting requirements until January 15, 2015. After January 15, 2015 these counties will be required to begin using the NY-Alert system to report sewage discharges required by the SPRTK law.
Interim System Forms
Submit the report by Email to ensure the report is received by DEC and DOH. The reporting form needs to be completed by the operator or other facility representative and emailed to DEC. The form must be submitted within 2 hours of discovery even if the discharge occurs during non-business or weekend hours.
- Sewage Discharge Report Form (PDF) (1.1 MB) - form used to report sewage bypasses.
- Discharge Report Form Guidance (PDF) (38 KB). Operators with questions on reporting requirements can call DEC at 518-402-8177.
Do not call the DEC Spill Hotline to report a discharge because the information will not be forwarded to the Department of Health. In the case of a power outage, call your Regional Water Engineer and local health department to report the discharge.
Troubleshooting and Common Questions
Q: How have reporting requirements changed?
A: Previously, notification of a discharge by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) was only provided to DEC and the Department of Health within 2 hours if the discharge was near a public drinking water in-take, a bathing beach or shellfish beds. All other untreated and partially treated sewage discharges from publicly owned treatment works were required to be reported to DEC within 24 hours.
Under the new law, POTWs and POSSs are required to notify DEC and Department of Health within two hours of discovery of untreated and partially treated sewage discharges. The information is available to the general public and adjoining municipalities on the Sewage Discharge Reports web page. DEC is working with the regulated community to ensure they are aware of the new requirements and help them comply with the new law.
Q. Why do I see an error message when I try to open the Sewage Discharge Report Form?
A: The web browser that is being used may not have the correct plug-ins enabled. Follow the Enabling Web Browser Plug-in Instructions (PDF) (614 KB) if you are receiving an error message when accessing the Sewage Discharge Report Form.
Q. What if a report was submitted by mistake?
A. If a report was submitted by mistake, the facility can provide an update to DEC and Department of Health with the information via email and provide details in the 5 day written report submitted to the Regional Water Engineer.
Q. Does a report need to be submitted for exceedances of State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit limits?
A. No, the law does not apply to exceedances of SPDES permit limits. Permit limit exceedances should be reported using the Report of Noncompliance Event Form (PDF) (198 KB). Visit the DMR FAQs on Non Compliance Reports web page for more information.
Q: If the operator of a Publicly Owned Sewer System (POSS) responds to a sewage discharge event that is owned/operated by another party, who is responsible for submitting the sewage discharge report form?
A: The owner/operator of the system where the sewage discharge occurred is responsible for submitting the sewage discharge report form.
Q. How does the facility operator know that the report was received by DEC?
A. By using the "Submit by E-mail" button on the form (e-mails the report to email@example.com), a date and time stamp will be created. You will receive an automatic reply confirming that your email was received by DEC.
Q: Do wet weather Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharges have to be reported?
A: DEC has reviewed the capabilities of CSO communities and has determined that the technology to reliably detect and measure discharges from the majority of CSOs does not currently exist. Facilities shall continue to report to DEC using current practices as defined in their Long Term Control Plans (LTCPs). DEC anticipates that improvements in CSO detection and monitoring may be pursued in department approved plans or permits.
To assist the public with making decisions about recreation activities, DEC developed a map of CSO outfalls locations and a CSO wet weather advisory web page regarding the potential for CSO discharge during and after precipitation and snow melt.
Q: State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits currently require signs at each Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) location. Do these signs need to be replaced by new "CSO Warning" signs as shown on DEC's website?
A: The sign shown on DEC's website is a good example of a CSO outfall sign. The existing signs do not have to be replaced. They are covered under current regulations and the new law does not require them to be changed.