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Vessel General Permit

What is the Vessel General Permit?

The Vessel General Permit (VGP) is required for most commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length that operate in US waters. The VGP regulates 26 different discharges from vessels that are incidental to the normal operation of a vessel. Some of these discharges are deck runoff, bilge water, gray water, chain locker effluent, and ballast water. The Small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) is required for most commercial vessels less than 79 feet in length that operates in US waters.

EPA's Proposed 2013 VGP & sVGP

EPA released the draft VGP and sVGP on December 8, 2011 for public comments due by February 21, 2012. The draft VGP acknowledges that numerous aquatic invasive species (AIS), a pollutant whose discharge must be controlled under the Clean Water Act (CWA), have been introduced into waters of the United States through the discharge of ballast water. The deadline for states' Water Quality Certification is July 2, 2012.

Comments on EPA's Proposed 2013 VGP

DEC is pleased with the improvements made in the draft VGP regarding gray water discharge effluent limitations, the retention of the requirement that vessels exchange and flush ballast water for certain vessels entering the Great Lakes, the inclusion of pathogen monitoring requirements for vessels using ballast water treatment systems, and requirements to address "hull fouling" - a significant pathway for the introduction of AIS. Other measures, however, are needed to adequately address significant vector pathways for the introduction of AIS. DEC has forwarded comments on the draft VGP to EPA, including Enclosure A (PDF) (1.7 MB).

New York's Final Water Quality Certification for EPA's Proposed 2013 VGP & sVGP

Section 401(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) allows states to attach additional limitations and requirements to a Federal permit. Both the Final Water Quality Certification to EPA's Proposed 2013 VGP & sVGP (PDF) (181 KB), the associated Fact Sheet (PDF) (116 KB), and the associated responsiveness summary (PDF) (154 KB).

2008 VGP Effective Date

The EPA originally issued the Vessel General Permit (VGP) effective December 19, 2008.

New York's 2008 Water Quality Certification

Section 401(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) allows states to attach additional limitations and requirements to a Federal permit. Part 6.22 of the VGP contains the additional requirements provided to EPA by New York in its Water Quality Certification (WQC).

  • Condition #1 of New York's WQC requires vessels entering New York waters from within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that have ballast water on board to conduct ballast water exchange at least 50 nautical miles from shore and in water 200 meters deep.
  • Condition # 2 requires vessels transiting through New York waters to have a ballast water treatment system capable of meeting effluent limitations specified in the WQC by January 1, 2012.
  • Condition #3 requires new vessels constructed on or after January 1, 2013 to have a ballast water treatment system capable of meeting effluent limitations provided in the WQC.
  • Condition #4, effective January 1, 2012, prohibits vessels operating in New York waters within 3 nautical miles from shore or within Long Island Sound or New York Harbor from discharging treated or untreated gray water.
  • Condition # 5, effective January 1, 2012, prohibits vessels transiting New York waters from discharging treated or untreated bilge water.

Extension Granted for Condition 2, 3, 4, and 5

After considering ship owners' request for an extension to the implementation dates for Condition 2, 3, 4 and 5 of New York's Clean Water Act 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 2008 Vessel General Permit (VGP), DEC has issued a letter granting extension (PDF) (252 KB) for Condition 2, 3, 4 and 5 to the end of the 2008 VGP term. The extension applies to the compliance deadline for 1) ballast water discharge standards for existing vessels, 2) ballast water discharge standards for new vessels (constructed on or after January 1, 2013), 3) gray water discharge prohibition, and 4) bilge water discharge prohibition.