Water Withdrawal Permits
A new water withdrawal law became effective in August 2011 and regulations were issued in April 2013. The former law required water withdrawal permits only for public water suppliers. As noted elsewhere, permits are now required for any potable and non-potable water withdrawal system having the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) or more of surface water, groundwater, or combination thereof (also referred to as "threshold volume").
Please note that the threshold volume is defined differently for agricultural facilities.
The capacity is the total withdrawal of all sources for a facility, independent of how they are plumbed or their designation, such as for redundancy, etc. Capacity is determined by summing the maximum potential withdrawal of all the water source(s), not by the typical or actual withdrawal. Regarding whether wells designated as redundant are exempt, please see the redundant well bullet point in the "Exemption" section for more details.
In addition to permits, an Annual Water Withdrawal Report must be filed each year by the March 31st filing deadline.
"New" versus "Initial" Permits
To avoid confusion it is important to understand the differences between the terms "Initial Permit" and "New Permit" under the new law.
A "New Permit" is required under any of the following circumstances:
Surface water intake
- Facility has never been in operation, or
- Facility (permitted or not) is increasing its taking, or
- An Annual Water Withdrawal Report was filed for the first time after February 15, 2012, or
- An Annual Water Withdrawal Report was never filed.
If none of these conditions exist, then the permit required for the facility is an "Initial Permit", explained in the proceeding section, below.
Application and approval for "New Permits" are required before a new water withdrawal system, or an increase in taking at an existing system, can be put into operation. Some currently operating facilities that previously did not require a permit may fall under the "New Permits" definition. In these cases please contact a permit administrator in the DEC region in which the facility is located so that a permit can be issued.
Applications for these permits are submitted to the Division of Environmental Permits in the DEC region where the facility is located. Please see DEP's web pages to learn about application procedures. You may also speak with a permit administrator in a DEC Regional Office. Application forms for all permit types can be found online.
As previously stated, the new law requires a permit for any type of water withdrawal having the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day or more. Consequently, a large number of existing water withdrawals that were not previously required to obtain permits will now need to do so. These are referred to as "initial permits". In order to manage permitting of all these existing facilities in a coordinated fashion, the regulations contain a schedule for application submissions to DEC as shown in Table 1, below.
The initial permits schedule for existing facilities applies only if all of the following points are met:
- Operating a water withdrawal system with a capacity equal to or greater than the 100,000 gallons per day as of February 15, 2012, AND
- Reported withdrawals to DEC on the Water Withdrawal Reporting Form on or before February 15, 2012, AND
- Is not operating a public water supply, AND
- Is not exempt from the permit requirements (e.g., Agricultural Facilities, withdrawals within the purview of the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basin Commissions, and more).
Applications for initial permits for existing facilities must be submitted according to the schedule contained in 6 NYCRR Part 601.7(b) (leaving DEC's website) and shown in Table 1, below. In order to maintain this schedule, applications shall be submitted no earlier than 45 days prior to the listed due date. For example, an initial permit application that is due by 2/15/14 should not be submitted any earlier than 1/1/14 and so on for the following years.
|Systems with the capacity to withdraw or currently withdraw:||Latest date for submission of applications to DEC|
|Greater than or equal to 100 million gallons per day (mgd)||June 1, 2013|
|Less than 100 mgd but greater or equal to 10 mgd||Feb 15, 2014|
|Less than 10 mgd but greater or equal to 2 mgd||Feb 15, 2015|
|Less than 2 mgd but greater or equal to 0.5 mgd||Feb 15, 2016|
|Less than 0.5 mgd but greater or equal to 0.1 mgd||Feb 15, 2017|
* Withdrawals that are specifically regulated by an existing SPDES permit must submit an initial permit application no later than 180 days before the existing SPDES permit is scheduled to expire. Such applications will be reviewed in coordination with the SPDES permit program.
Applications for Initial Permits
Applications for Initial Permits must be made in electronic and paper form. Electronic applications are sent to the Initial Water Withdrawal Permits email address. One paper copy of the application must be sent to the Regional Permit Administrator. Two paper copies must be sent to: Chief Permit Administrator, Division of Environmental Permits, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway 4th floor, Albany, NY 12233-1750. For questions, please contact the Division of Water.
Application forms and guidance
Please note that regardless of the application due date, an Annual Water Withdrawal Report must be filed each year, even after a permit has been issued.
Renewal of an Existing Permit
Permits are issued for periods of up to 10 years. Application for renewal of a permit must occur at least 30 days prior to its expiration unless otherwise specified in the original permit.
The following water withdrawal systems are exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit.
- Withdrawals for agricultural purposes that prior to February 15, 2012 were registered or their annual water usage reported to DEC. However, these withdrawals must be reported annually to DEC. In addition it is important to note that agricultural facilities that were not registered prior to February 15, 2012 or did not submit annual water usage to DEC by that date must apply for a permit.
- Withdrawals that have received approval from the Delaware River Basin Commission or Susquehanna River Basin Commission. However these withdrawals must be reported annually to DEC. See the DRBC and SRBC websites via links in the right margin of this webpage under "Links Leaving DEC's Website";
- Withdrawals of hydropower facilities operating under a valid Federal Energy Regulating Commission license;
- Withdrawals from the New York State Canal System that are used by the New York State Canal Corporation for purposes authorized by law;
- Closed loop, standing column or similar non-extractive geothermal systems;
- Long Island wells permitted pursuant to ECL section 15-1527 (leaving DEC's website) and Part 602 of 6 NYCRR (leaving DEC's website);
- On-site water withdrawal systems for approved inactive hazardous waste remedial site programs conducted pursuant to state or federal court order or state or federal government agency agreement or order;
- Withdrawals used for fire suppression or other public emergency purposes;
- Direct withdrawals from the Atlantic Ocean or Long Island Sound;
- The extension of supply or distributing mains or pipes within a previously-approved water service area that remains within the amount authorized in a water supply permit or water withdrawal permit for the purpose of supplying potable water;
- The reconstruction of facilities in an existing water withdrawal system when the capacity of such system is in no way altered (reconstruction does not include constructing an adjacent withdrawal structure);
- Although redundant wells in newly permitted public water supply systems are included in calculating total capacity, older existing permitted systems that do not already meet redundancy requirements may be exempt if being required by the NYS Department of Health to add redundant wells. See §601.2 Definitions section (p).
- The construction of filtration or other treatment facilities that will not in any way alter the amount of water which can be made available from the present source of supply;
- Water withdrawals to supply ballast water necessary for lawful and normal vessel activity;
- Water withdrawal directly related to routine maintenance and emergency repairs of dams.
- Temporary water withdrawals for the purposes of construction, dewatering, hydrostatic testing, or aquifer testing, where the volume withdrawn is less than an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any consecutive thirty-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30 day period).
Public Water Supply
Public water supply permitting has been incorporated into the Water Withdrawal Permitting regulations. Applicants should continue to submit applications as usual. And all public water supply permits issued prior to the new law remain in effect. However, the Department will now only issue new or modified permits for water withdrawal systems with a capacity of 100,000 gallons per day or more. Please be reminded that public water supplies of any withdrawal amount continue to be regulated by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and require the approval of that agency. For more information about DOH requirements see "Offsite Links" in right margin of this page.
Municipal water storage tank
For public water supply systems, the water withdrawal permittee shall submit to the Department a copy of the Approval of Completed Works issued by the Department of Health before the commencement of final operation of the water withdrawal system. Contract plans and specifications, or changes, for a public water supply system for which a permit has been issued by the Department are subject to review and approval by the Department of Health prior to the commencement of construction.
The following requirements continue to apply for DEC permitting of public water supplies with a capacity of 100,000 gallons per day or more. The capacity is the sum of all sources, independent of how they are plumbed or their designation, such as for redundancy, etc.
SEQR, Other DEC Permit Requirements, and Other Agency Requirements
All information required in 6NYCRR Part 601, as well as the necessary forms for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) and the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA), must be submitted for the application to be complete. Please see the Applications Procedures webpage.
You may need other DEC permits or permits from other agencies for your project. Various environmental permits are covered under the Uniform Procedures Act (UPA).
The official guidance for design of drinking water facilities in New York State is the document titled Recommended Standards For Water Works, also known as "Ten-State Standards" (see "Offsite Links" in right margin of this page). This publication contains policies for the review and approval of plans and specifications for public water supplies. It is a report of the Water Supply Committee of the Great Lakes--Upper Mississippi River Board of State and Provincial Public Health and Environmental Managers. Member states and province: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.
Water Conservation at Public Water Supplies
Legislation took effect on January 1, 1989 adding water conservation to the standards for permit issuance in this program. Each applicant must document the local water conservation measures taken and those measures planned for future implementation.
Accordingly, the Department developed a Water Conservation Manual (PDF) (1.26 MB) for public water supplies describing beneficial near term and long range water conservation measures that can be adapted as necessary to reflect local water resource needs and conditions.
A fill-able Water Conservation Program Form was also developed to help public water supply applicants organize and present the information needed to evaluate the local water conservation program. This form must be submitted with a water supply application. This document is an interactive form and may be filled out on your computer and then saved and/or printed. Please note there are two water conservation program forms, one for public water supplies (PDF, 156 KB) and another for non-potable supplies (PDF, 235 KB).
Both the Manual and the Form can be obtained from the links above or at the appropriate DEC Regional Environmental Permits office or from the Bureau of Water Resource Management at the DEC Central Office (telephone number and email are in the right hand margin of this page).
Water Well Abandonment and Decommissioning
An abandoned well can lead
to groundwater contamination
To prevent groundwater contamination and hazardous ground conditions, all wells must be either maintained or properly decommissioned. Good maintenance includes protection from vandalism by use of a protective casing and a locked well cap in good condition or by welding the cover in place. Additionally the well casing should be maintained in a way to prevent surface water from entering the casing. The casing or cap should be marked with a well owner's identification and the well owner should keep a record of all well locations. Maintenance also includes inspecting the well periodically, at least once per year. If for any reason the well is not maintained it should be decommissioned. The term "abandonment" is vague and could be defined simply as neglect. Therefore think of decommissioning a well to be permanent closure. Property owners may be liable for groundwater contamination and injuries that occur due to abandoned wells not properly decommissioned. Please review DEC's Water Well Decommissioning Procedures.
When an active well becomes inactive, please fill out the Well Abandonment and Decommissioning form (PDF, 138 KB).
Draft Flow-Related Conditions in Water Withdrawal Permits (Pass-By Flows)
The "Pass-By Flows" document (PDF, 1.02 MB) is in draft status. It describes the policies and procedures for incorporating flow-related conditions when issuing Water Withdrawal Permits, pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 601 ("Water Withdrawal Regulations"). The Water Withdrawal Regulations and Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL") Section 15-1501 encourage the responsible use of water resources, including ensuring adequate supplies of potable water, while protecting aquatic life, habitat function, and best usages. Consistent with ECL § 15-1501 and the Water Withdrawal Regulations, this document outlines procedures that should be followed to ensure that "the proposed water withdrawal will be implemented in a manner to ensure it will result in no significant individual or cumulative adverse impacts to the quantity or quality of the water source and water dependent natural resources, including aquatic life." 6 NYCRR Part 601.11(c)(6). This guidance was developed cooperatively by the Division of Water and the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources.
The following tree will help you determine whether you must apply for a permit.