Department of Environmental Conservation

Clean Water Permit Process (Follow-Up Report)

To protect New York State’s waterways against unhealthy contamination and environmental damage, sewage treatment plants, factories and people engaged in certain other activities may not lawfully discharge wastewater or stormwater (the run-off from rain or melting snow) into surface or underground waterways without a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Moreover, all such discharges must comply with the terms of the permit, under which both the amount and the contents of the wastewater or stormwater are strictly regulated.

In audit report 2001-S-18, we examined the processes used by the Department to issue and monitor these permits, and found that a number of improvements were needed. For example, contrary to State law, many permits classified by the Department as low-risk were extended indefinitely without a review of the circumstances relating to the permit. In addition, many permits classified as high-risk were not reviewed as frequently as intended by the Department to determine whether modifications were needed in the permits as a result of changing conditions. We further found that the permit issuance and monitoring processes could be improved if better use were made of available electronic data processing technologies. When we followed up on these matters with Department officials, we found that they had taken action to implement many of our audit recommendations, but additional actions were still needed.

For a complete copy of Report 2004-F-45 click here.