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SPDES Permit Program: Do I Need a Permit?

Regulated Activities

New York State law requires a permit for:

  • Constructing or using an outlet or discharge pipe (referred to as a "point source") that discharges wastewater into the surface waters or ground waters of the state
  • Constructing or operating a disposal system such as a sewage treatment plant
  • Permits are also required for modifying, transferring and renewing your permit. See details below.

Do Not Start a Project Before Obtaining a Permit

You must obtain all necessary permits before commencing work on a project that requires any DEC permit. Persons commencing work on such a project before obtaining the required permits, and any contractors engaged in such work, are subject to enforcement action by the DEC. Such action may include:

  1. Civil or criminal court action, or both,
  2. Fines, or
  3. An order to remove structures or materials or perform other remedial action, or both a fine and an order.

Exempt Activities

No SPDES permit is required for a facility whose treatment system has a design flow of total discharges to ground water of less than 1,000 gallons per day of sewage-wastewater containing no industrial or other non-sewage wastes.

However, these discharges may require approval from the appropriate city health department, county health department, or district office of the New York State Department of Health before a system (cesspool, septic system, etc.) can be built. They may also require other DEC permits or approvals from other agencies.

Is this project Major or Minor?

Minor SPDES projects include:

  • discharges of less than 10,000 gallons per day of sewage effluent, without the admixture of industrial wastes or other wastes, to ground water. Such projects may qualify for the P/C/I SPDES General Permit GP-0-15-001.

All Other SPDES Projects are Major.

Application of Standards, Limitations and Other Requirements

SPDES permits must meet all applicable water quality standards and effluent limitations. DEC regulations, 6 NYCRR Section 750-1.11(a), provide a list of standards, limitations and other requirements.

Modifying Your Permit

Requests for permit modifications must be submitted by the permittee for facility modifications or expansions, process modifications, or production modifications. Typical modifications are:

  1. Any increase in the volume of the wastewater.
  2. Any change in the limitations on the contaminants in the wastewater effluent.
  3. Any change in the location of the discharge point.
  4. Any change from a discharge underground to a surface discharge, or from a surface discharge to an underground discharge.
  5. Any change in the type of treatment of the wastewater.

A request for any of these modifications must include the appropriate application form and supporting documents, and an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). The requested modifications must not be undertaken prior to receiving DEC's authorization.

Be sure to include your previous DEC permit number and your SPDES number (e.g., NY-0100001) in your correspondence.

Submit your modification request as early as possible. In most cases, modification requests submitted within 6 months (180 days) of an existing permit's expiration date will be combined with your renewal application for processing. (Renewal applications are due 6 months before permit expiration.)

Contact the Regional Permit Administrator if you have questions concerning your particular modification.

Transferring Your Permit

A change in facility ownership or a change in permittee name are types of permit modifications. These require an Application for Permit Transfer.

The Application for Permit Transfer requires certifications by both the proposed new owner/operator and the present permittee, and it should be submitted 30 days prior to transfer.

Be sure to include your previous DEC permit number and your SPDES number (e.g., NY-0100001) in your correspondence.

Contact the Regional Permit Administrator if you have questions concerning a permit transfer.

Renewing Your Permit

SPDES permits for discharges to surface waters are typically issued for up to five years; and permits for discharges to ground waters are typically issued for up to ten years.

A complete renewal application must be submitted at least 180 days prior to the permit's expiration date. DEC will attempt to mail a renewal application form to the permittee of record several months in advance of the expiration date of the permit so it can be submitted in time.

The permittee is responsible for submitting a timely renewal application regardless of whether DEC sent you a renewal application. If you have not received a renewal application, please contact:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Water
Bureau of Water Permits
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-3505
Telephone: (518) 402-8111.

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    4th Floor
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1750
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