Do I Need a SPDES Permit?

The State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) program was created to eliminate pollution in New York’s water and maintain water quality consistent with the interests of public health, recreational use, wildlife protection, and industrial development. As part of this program, certain activities may require you to obtain a SPDES permit, including point source pipe construction or operation of a disposal system such as a sewage treatment plant. Read on to find out if your project requires you to obtain a SPDES permit and, if so, how you can submit an application.

What is SPDES?

The SPDES program is authorized by Article 17 of New York’s Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), the SPDES program complies with the federal Clean Water Act by controlling point source discharges to surface waters and goes beyond the scope of the Clean Water Act by controlling point source discharges to groundwaters.

The objective of the SPDES program is to eliminate pollutants in New York’s waters and to ensure that the quality of water remains consistent with the interests of:

  • public health
  • public enjoyment of the resource
  • protection and propagation of fish and wildlife
  • industrial development in the state

What Activities Require a Permit?

The SPDES program requires that you obtain the appropriate permit for engagement of certain activities, including:

  • The construction or use of a point source such as an outlet or discharge pipe that discharges wastewater into the state’s surface or groundwater; and
  • The construction or operation of a disposal system such as a sewage treatment facility.

The SPDES program also includes specific requirements for permit modification, transfer, or renewal.

Within the scope of these activities, SPDES permit holders must meet all pertinent water quality standards and effluent limitations.

What types of SPDES Permits are there?

SPDES permits fall into the following categories. Your required permit will depend upon the nature of your project:

  • MSGP
  • Aquatic Pesticides General Permit
  • PCI (to groundwater)
  • CAFO (Medium or Large)
  • Construction

Westfall Law PLLC is experienced in and can assist you or your company with securing any or all of these types of SPEDES permits.

Visit the NYDEC for associated permit fees.

SPDES projects may also be divided into Minor and Major SPDES. Minor SPDES projects are those that discharge “less than 10,000 gallons per day of sewage effluent, without the admixture of industrial wastes or other wastes, to ground water.”

All other projects are considered Major SPDES projects.

When do I obtain a SPDES permit?

Contact Westfall Law PLLC to determine if a SPDES permit is necessary for your project.

You are prohibited from beginning any project that will require a SPDES permit without first obtaining said permit. Beginning work without this permit may make you subject to DEC enforcement actions, including fines, orders to remove structures and materials, and civil or criminal court action (or both).

This denotes the importance of taking all the appropriate steps to complete your application and obtain the correct SPDES permit for your project.

If your project qualifies as a Minor SPDES project, you may qualify for completion of the  P/C/I SPDES General Permit GP-0-15-001.

For all other Major SPDES projects, the DEC maintains a Dropbox-based set of resources including two indexes of Facilities and their affiliated NPDES IDs. The Dropbox also includes step-by-step instructions for navigating these indexes so that you can locate the correct permit for your project.

Application Assistance

Click here for more detail on the application process and access to support contacts within the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Or, for personal guidance on the permitting, renewal or modification process, speak to one of our Environmental Law experts today: