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Proposed changes for watershed regs


NEW YORK CITY, NY — The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced four public hearings to solicit input on proposed changes to its watershed regulations. The regulations seek to protect public health by preventing contamination and degradation of New York City’s water supply. They largely focus on wastewater treatment, stormwater runoff and the protection of watershed streams that feed the city’s reservoirs.

The latest round of updates comes after approximately two years of consultation with watershed communities that sought changes that would protect water quality while lifting some unnecessary burdens from local homeowners, business owners and developers. Most of the regulatory updates simply reflect changes in state and federal law, or improve the clarity of language in existing rules. The more substantive changes include:

The amended regulations would establish a category of small, limited-impact projects for which stormwater pollution prevention plans can be simpler, similar to the existing framework for individual residential stormwater permits. This will make the stormwater approval process more efficient for many small business owners.

The draft regulations replace the existing approach for evaluating alterations and modifications of septic systems, and for determining whether systems that have not been used in some time can be brought back into service. The new, more streamlined process will focus primarily on how well the septic system will serve the proposed use, consistent with public health and water-quality concerns.

DEP would no longer review or approve holding tanks or portable toilets. Rather, the revised rules will establish standards consistent with guidance from the state.

The proposed amendments will eliminate the “hardship” criterion necessary for obtaining a variance from the regulations. Each variance application will now be reviewed on its merits, without the requirement to prove a specific hardship.

The amendments would eliminate the description of an East-of-Hudson phosphorus offset program for wastewater plants. That program had a limited term and has already ended.

In addition, the amendments incorporate the most recent versions of various New York State publications cited in the watershed regulations, including those related to stormwater discharges, design standards for intermediate-sized wastewater treatment systems, and the latest standards of wastewater treatment for residential onsite systems.

Public hearings will be held at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, October 30 at 6 p.m. in the Longhouse Lodge, 181 Galli Curci Rd., Highmount; SUNY Delhi, November 1 at 6 p.m. in the Evenden Tour, Room 104, Delhi Drive, Delhi; Putnam County Emergency Operations Center, November 6 at 6 p.m. at 112 Old Rte. 6, Carmel; Department of Environmental Protection offices, November 8 at 10 a.m., 11th floor conference room, 59-17 Junction Blvd., Flushing.

Written comments can be submitted via email to nycrules@dep.nyc.gov, or in writing by November 23 to Dan Mulvihill, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Legal Affairs, 19th Fl., 59-17 Junction Blvd., Flushing, NY 11373.


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