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Revised Rural Area Flexibility Analysis for SPRTK

1. 'Types and estimated numbers of rural areas.' The rule will apply to all towns and villages in rural areas throughout the state that have publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) or publicly owned sewer systems (POSSs) or that adjoin communities that have POTWs or POSSs.

2. 'Reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements; and professional services.' The rule requires owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs to report untreated and partially treated sewage discharges to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the local health department, or if there is none, the New York State Department of Health immediately, but in no case later than two hours from discovery of the discharge, except partially treated sewage discharged directly from a POTW that is in compliance with a DEC approved plan or permit does not have to be reported. Owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs also need to continue reporting for each day after the initial report is made until the discharge terminates, except that on the day the discharge terminates, a report documenting termination of the previously reported discharge may be made in lieu of the daily report. Daily and termination reports must be made within 24 hours of the previous report. The definition of 'municipality' in the existing regulations (6 NYCRR 750-1.2 (a) (51)) will apply to the rule's definition of 'POSS' and continue to apply to the current definition of 'POTW' which has been left unchanged. Thus, both POTWs and POSSs will include systems that are owned by a "county, town, city, village, district corporation, special improvement district, sewer authority or agency thereof." The rule, however, distinguishes a POSS from a POTW by defining a POSS as "a sewer system owned by a municipality and which discharges to a POTW owned by another municipality." In contrast, a POTW does not include a municipally owned sewer system unless the sewer system that discharges to the POTW is owned by the same municipality. The rule also describes the necessary content of two hour reports to the extent knowable with existing systems and models as prescribed by Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) 17-0826-a (1) (a)-(f).

Furthermore, the rule obligates owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs to notify the chief elected official, or authorized designee, of the municipality where the discharge occurred and the chief elected official, or authorized designee, of any adjoining municipality that may be affected of untreated and partially treated sewage discharges to surface water as soon as possible, but no later than four hours from discovery of the discharge. The municipal notification requirement does not apply to partially treated sewage discharged directly from a POTW that is in compliance with a DEC approved plan or permit. For purposes of the municipal notification requirement, the rule defines a 'municipality' to be "a city, town or village" and an 'adjoining municipality' to mean "a municipality that is adjacent to the municipality in which the discharge occurred."

In addition, the rule requires owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs to notify the general public as soon as possible, but no later than four hours from discovery of discharges of untreated and partially treated sewage to surface water, except that no notification is required for partially treated sewage discharged directly from a POTW that is in compliance with a DEC approved plan or permit.

The rule does not require POTWs or POSSs to upgrade their infrastructure or install monitoring equipment. However, for combined sewer overflows for which real-time telemetered discharge monitoring and detection does not exist, the rule requires owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs to expeditiously issue advisories to the general public through appropriate electronic media as determined by the department when, based on actual rainfall data or predictive models, enough rain has fallen that combined sewer overflows may discharge. These advisories may be made on a waterbody basis rather than by individual combined sewer overflow points.

Finally, the rule establishes a registration program for POSSs; requires owners and operators of POSSs to properly operate and maintain their facilities; obligates owners and operators of POSSs to file five day written incident reports (as currently required for POTW SPDES permittees and other SPDES permittees); directs owners of POSSs to notify DEC of a change in ownership or operation of their facilities; and provides that DEC has authority to inspect POSSs and copy records. It may be necessary for municipalities in rural areas to employ professional services to carry out the responsibilities associated with the rule if existing staff are insufficient to handle these duties.

3. 'Costs.' There may be some initial capital costs to municipalities or their contractors (including those in rural areas) to comply with the rule. These costs would consist of upgrades to computer systems to comply with the rule's electronic reporting and notification requirements if existing computer systems are not adequate. It is estimated that the cost to a municipality (or its contractor) to upgrade its computer system to comply with the rule would be a single expenditure of about $1,000. Approximately 140 municipalities (or their contractors) will need to upgrade their computer systems to comply with the rule, all of which are located in rural areas. It may also be necessary for some municipalities to hire additional employees or to extend the work hours of current employees on an annual basis to comply with the rule if existing staff are unable to handle these duties during current work hours. The rule imposes two hour reporting and four hour notification requirements on owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs (along with daily and termination reports); requires POTWs and POSSs to issue advisories for certain combined sewer overflows; establishes a registration program for POSSs and obligates them to file five day written incident reports; and requires owners of POSSs to notify DEC of a change in ownership or operation of the facility. The pay rate of an employee to handle the duties associated with the rule is estimated to be $34.80 to $60.85 per hour. Some local health departments are also expected to incur expenses of approximately $1,000 to upgrade their computer systems as well as minimal annual expenses associated with employee services.

There are approximately 620 permitted POTWs and 300 identified POSSs statewide. DEC estimates that 890 municipalities own a single POTW or POSS and that the remaining 30 POTWs and POSSs are owned by municipalities that own more than one of these facilities. DEC anticipates that each POTW and POSS will have, on average, two (2) reportable sanitary sewer overflow events per year at a de minimis cost for reporting and record keeping and that 570 of these POTWs and POSSs will be located in rural areas. Some communities, however, are expected to have a considerable number of combined sewer overflow events each year. The rule, however, imposes no cost on POTWs and POSSs to develop CSO reporting systems. DEC based the above labor costs on use of the department approved alert system that will notify DEC, NYSDOH, local health departments, elected officials, adjoining municipalities, and the general public. The rule requires that POTWs and POSSs use the department approved form of electronic media (currently NY-ALERT) to carry out all of the rule's electronic reporting and notification requirements. The department acknowledges that initial capital costs and annual costs will vary depending on the municipality, including those in rural areas, and the circumstances regarding each sewage release event.

4. 'Minimizing adverse impact.' There are no adverse environmental, public health or other impacts to rural areas associated with the rule. The rule imposes the same compliance, reporting and notification requirements (and associated timeframes) upon all owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs statewide. The rule is being carried out in this manner because the enabling legislation, ECL section 17-0826-a, does not distinguish between POTWs and POSSs located in rural areas and those located elsewhere. The approaches suggested by SAPA 202-bb (2) and other similar approaches were considered, but the statutory authority does not provide for exemptions and imposes the same requirements and timetables on all POTWs and POSSs throughout the state irrespective of their location.

5. 'Rural area participation.' DEC complied with SAPA 202-bb (7) by providing public and private interests in rural areas with the opportunity to participate in the rule making process. This occurred through posting notice of the proposed rulemaking on the DEC website; maintaining a public website informing public and private interests of the impact of the rule; and through interaction with owners and operators of POTWs and POSSs, environmental groups, and others. The Department also held Water Management Advisory Committee (WMAC) meetings on the rule which were attended by various stakeholders. Furthermore, notice of the proposed rule was published in the State Register and the public was provided with an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. The Department has reviewed the comments received and has completed an Assessment of Public Comments.



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