Compliance and Enforcement in NY's Waters
Once SPDES permits are issued, the Division of Water (DOW) works to ensure that permit requirements are met. In some instances, legal action is required to enforce permit requirements and protect water quality. Compliance and enforcement programs cover all issued SPDES permits. Permits are normally issued for wastewater discharges from municipal and industrial treatment plants, stormwater discharges from construction, industrial and municipal areas, and for waste discharges from animal feeding operations.
All entities with SPDES permits are required to report information about wastewater and stormwater discharges. The DOW uses this information, along with information gathered during inspections and information from the public, to determine if the permitted entity is meeting its SPDES permit requirements.
If an entity is violating the terms of its SPDES permit, the DOW can use a variety of methods to correct the problem. For minor permit violations, the DOW uses an informal process called a Notice of Violation to encourage the entity to correct the problem. If a larger problem exists, the DOW may use a formal legal process such as an Order on Consent, Notice of Enforcement Hearing and Complaint, Cease and Desist directive, Commissioner's Order, or ticketing by a DEC Environmental Conservation Officer to ensure that the entity corrects the problem.
While the DOW does use the processes described above to address permit violations, the preferred method is to prevent problems from happening in the first place. To achieve this goal, the DOW works with specific facilities and industry associations to meet water quality goals. Training, education and technical assistance all play a part in this process.
Compliance and enforcement is often considered the final stage of the DOW watershed management cycle, but the cycle continues once this stage is reached. Monitoring of discharges and receiving waterbodies verifies the effectiveness of implementation activities and compliance actions and restarts the watershed management cycle.
DOW Compliance and Enforcement Information:
- Report an Environmental Problem -- If you see a possible environmental problem, use the process outlined on this page to report it to DEC. The DOW encourages use of this process to report possible water quality problems.
- SPDES compliance and enforcement annual reports -- Reports summarizing the Division of Water's compliance and enforcement activities by state fiscal year are available in the "Important Links" section of the right-hand column of this page.