SPDES Program Overview
New York is rich in surface and groundwater resources. Article 17 titled "Water Pollution Control" of the 6 NYCRR PART 750 Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) was enacted to protect and maintain these valuable resources. Article 17 authorized creation of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) program to maintain New York's waters with reasonable standards of purity.
The SPDES program is designed to eliminate the pollution of New York waters and to maintain the highest quality of water possible, consistent with:
- Public health.
- Public enjoyment of the resource.
- Protection and propagation of fish and wildlife.
- Industrial development in the state.
New York's SPDES program has been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the control of surface wastewater and stormwater discharges in accordance with the Clean Water Act; however, the SPDES program is broader in scope than that required by the Clean Water Act as it controls point source discharges to groundwaters as well as surface waters.
Determine if you need a permit
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:
- Civil or criminal court action, or both;
- fines; or
- an order to remove structures or materials or perform other remedial action, or both a fine and an order.
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:
- 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:
- Any increase in the volume of the wastewater.
- Any change in the limitations on the contaminants in the wastewater effluent.
- Any change in the location of the discharge point.
- Any change from a discharge underground to a surface discharge, or from a surface discharge to an underground discharge.
- Any change in the type of treatment of the wastewater.
A request for any of these modifications must include the appropriate application form, 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 (PDF).
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
Albany, NY 12233-3505
Telephone: (518) 402-8111
DECinfo Locator (leaves DEC website) is an interactive map that lets you access DEC documents and public data about the environmental quality of specific sites in New York State. To view current SPDES permits, select the type(s) of wastewater facilities (wastewater, MSGP, CSO, etc.) you are interested in on the Permits and Registrations layer.
This website is intended to enable interested parties to view and print Multi-Sector General (MSGP) Permit documents (leaves DEC website) as PDFs. There is a Readme file and two Index files to assist the users in locating the permits and documents that they are looking for. Please read the Readme file first before you begin your search.
Draft SPDES permits are announced in the Environmental Notice Bulletin during the public comment period. Draft SPDES permits publicly noticed on or after May 11, 2022, are posted on DECinfo Locator. Draft SPDES permits publicly noticed prior to May 11, 2022, (leaves DEC website) can be viewed on this website and are in the Draft SPDES Permits folder, listed in order by facility name. Please use the ReadMe file on this site to help you locate the files you are interested in. All questions and comments about the draft permits should be addressed to the contact person provided on the Environmental Notice Bulletin and Newspaper public notice and sent to the regional permit administrator.
Annual Fees For SPDES Permits
While no application fees are charged for review of permit applications, the Department assesses permittees for annual Environmental Regulatory Program Fees based on the type of facility, the type of authorization, and the discharge volume. In accordance with Article 72, Title 6 of the Environmental Conservation Law, fees for SPDES permits are:
|Fees (per year)
|Aquatic Pesticides General Permit
|PCI (to groundwater)
|CAFO (Medium or Large)
|Construction - one time initial authorization fee
|$110 per disturbed acre and
$675 per future impervious acre
Table 2 for SPDES Individual Permit Fees
|Fee (per year)
|Less than 10,000 gpd
|10,000 - 99,999 gpd
|100,000 - 499,999 gpd
|500,000 - 999,999 gpd
|1,000,000 - 9,999,999 gpd
|10,000,000 gpd or more
|Less than 200,000 gpd
|200,000 - 999,999 gpd
|1,000,000 - 4,999,999 gpd
|5,000,000 - 39,999,999 gpd
|40,000,000 gpd or more
|Less than 100,000 gpd
|100,000 gpd or more
|Less than 1,000,000 gals.
in any 24 hr. period
|1,000,000 gals. or more
in any 24 hr. period
Disclaimer: When the fees indicated in the DEC regulations or the above table are not consistent with those contained in the ECL, the annual fees indicated in the ECL shall prevail.
2023 SPDES Priority Ranking List
DEC is providing the Environmental Benefit Permit Strategy (EBPS) priority rankings list (PDF) in conformance with section 17-0817(6) of the ECL. The lists are based on a ranking system that prioritizes individual permits for full technical review and, when necessary, modification. Scoring data for each individual permit in the EBPS lists is available in the EBPS scoring details (PDF) document.
For additional information on EBPS, please refer to TOGS 1.2.2 or this brief EBPS Overview (PDF).
Design Standards and Engineering Reports
Engineering Report Outline and Engineering Forms
This Engineering Report Outline (PDF) describes the requirements for SPDES engineering report submittals that should be followed by all types of discharges and must be followed when a facility receives funding through the Environmental Facilities Corporation.
Engineering reports shall be prepared, stamped, and dated by a New York State-registered Professional Engineer and developed in accordance with the latest editions of the following standards whenever practicable and as appropriate:
- Recommended Standards for Wastewater Facilities - Policies for the Design, Review, and Approval of Plans and Specifications for Wastewater Collection and Treatment Facilities (commonly known as the Ten States Standards).
- TR-16 Guides for the Design of Wastewater Treatment Works - New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.
- New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual.
- New York State Design Standards for Intermediate Sized Wastewater Treatment Systems Statewide and Lake George Design Standards.
- 6 NYCRR Part 750-2.10.
Intermediate Design Standards (2014)
The 2014 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Design Standards for Intermediate-sized Wastewater Treatment Systems (PDF) (Intermediate Design Standards) provide wastewater treatment system design professionals, owners and operators, and regulators guidance on design, operation, and maintenance of intermediate-sized wastewater treatment facilities. This manual is a reference for both the Private/Commercial/Institutional SPDES General Permit, as well as individual permits for sanitary waste. These systems serve:
- Medium sized facilities discharging to surface and ground waters;
- Cluster housing and other multi-home developments; and
- Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) that discharge to groundwater.
Excluded are residential systems (individual home septic systems), large POTWs, and industrial facilities.
The Intermediate Design Standards provide design criteria for building wastewater treatment systems that protect the water quality of groundwater and surface water, aid designers in the preparation of complete project submissions (map, plan, and report), and improve the efficiency of project review by regulatory agencies. It is intended to incorporate newer technology for the onsite or near-site treatment of wastewater, as well as provide more design and installation guidance for wastewater treatment facilities. These developments have arisen from special needs, including the replacement of failing systems on limited-sized sites, lighter-weight construction materials, lower-cost sewage collection and treatment for remote or isolated locations, and special considerations for environmentally sensitive areas.
Lake George Design Standards for Wastewater Treatment Systems (2015)
The 2015 Design Standards for Wastewater Treatment Systems in the Lake George Basin (PDF) are only applicable in the Lake George Basin for treated sanitary sewage discharging to groundwater without admixture of industrial wastes.
Wastewater Treatment Upgrades, Expansions, and Planning
Planning to upgrade, expand, or build a new wastewater treatment plant in New York State? Below are a few questions to consider before submitting a SPDES application. These guiding points will help to navigate potential changes in an individual SPDES permit and can aid in the decision making and design planning process.
- Ensure the regional permit administrator has been contacted about the project. Additional permits may be needed and may impact project timeline.
- Identify the facility's receiving water and any present impairments or Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). The classification of the receiving water impacts the applicable water quality standards. TMDLs and impairments are incorporated into permit limitations.
- Facilities that discharge near environmentally sensitive areas such as bathing beaches, drinking water intakes, and areas with sensitive species may have limitations.
- Determine if the planned upgrades or expansion of the facility will impact the facility's influent waste stream's characteristics. If new waste streams are anticipated, these parameters will need to be evaluated. Expanded flows may reduce available dilution.
- Ensure the present or future treatment technology can adequately treat for pollutants present in the discharge. This can be helpful in developing the Schedule of Compliance to meet new limitations.
- Given the facility's outfall and receiving waters, identify the available dilution. Dilution impacts the assimilative capacity and ultimately, the water-quality based effluent limits.
- Near-by POTWs may have capacity to accept the waste stream, eliminating the need for a direct discharge.
- Domestic wastewater contains nutrients. Ponded waterbodies are more susceptible to phosphorus and nitrogen impacts. Consider the receiving waters' assimilative capacity for these nutrients.
- A POTW will need to revise the Sewer Use Law if a pretreatment program is required.
Below are resources that may help during design consideration.
Resources for Publicly Owned Treatment Works
Technology Based Effluent Limitations for POTWs: TOGS 1.3.3
Resources for Industries
- Technology Based Effluent Limitations for industrial facilities: TOGS 1.2.1Effluent limitation guidelines and standards for industrial facilities: 40 CFR Chapter I Subchapter N
Resources for All Dischargers
To learn more about the environment in your area such as receiving water classification, waterbody impairments, and endangered species visit:
- DECinfo Locator
- Classifications and Standards of Quality and Purity: 6 NYCRR X A
- Endangered and Threatened Species: DEC Environmental Resource Mapper
To learn about applicable Water Quality Standards:
- Surface Water and Groundwater Quality Standards and Groundwater Effluent Limitations: 6 NYCRR 703.2, 703.3, 703.4, 703.5, 703.6
- Ambient Water Quality Standards and Guidance Values and Groundwater Effluent Limitations: TOGS 1.1.1
To learn about Water Quality Based Effluent Limits:
- Total Maximum Daily Loads & Water Quality Based Effluent Limits: TOGS 1.3.1
- USGS StreamStats: StreamStats Application (leaves DEC website)
- USGS SWToolbox: USGS SWToolbox Software, Instructions
- USGS Low-Flow Frequency Analysis of Streams in New York: Bulletin 74
To learn about waterbody impairments and Total Maximum Daily Loads:
- NYS Section 303(d) List of Impaired/TMDL Waters: 303(d) List
- Clean Water Plans: Clean Water Plans and Total Maximum Daily Load Plans
To learn about Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing and Water Treatment Chemicals:
- Acute and Chronic Toxicity Testing in the SPDES Permit Program: TOGS 1.3.2
- Water Treatment Chemical Notification Forms: Water Treatment Chemicals
To learn about pollutant-specific limitations:
- Phosphorus Removal Requirements to Wastewater Discharges to Lakes & Lake Watersheds: TOGS 1.3.6
- Mercury Guidance: TOGS 1.3.10
Below are helpful presentations on individual SPDES permit development.
- SPDES Permit Limitation Creation & Discharge Monitoring Rationale in NYS (PDF)
- State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Permit Renewals, Reviews, and Municipal Application Updates (PDF)
- NPDES e-Reporting Rule - Information on the NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule and its requirements
- Vessel Incidental Discharge Act VIDA - The EPA issued the Vessel General Permit (VGP) effective December 19, 2008.
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - Information about permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).