New Mandatory Sewage Release Reporting Law

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Posted on 05/03/2016 by VLCT Communications

 

The Vermont Legislature recently passed H.674, a bill that requires public notification by operators of wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs) of releases of sewage to Vermont’s surface waters. These new requirements will become effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature. These new requirements require WWTF operators to:

  1. Post an electronic “Public Alert” within 1 hour of discovery of an untreated discharge from the WWTF (which includes the treatment plant, collection system, pump stations, and attendant facilities permitted by the Agency for the purpose of treating sewage).  If an operator is working to stop the discharge in a location with no telephone or internet access, the “public alert” must be posted no later than 4 hours from discovery. “Untreated discharges” that must be posted include (a) combined sewer overflows; (b) overflows from sanitary sewers and combined sewer systems during dry weather flows, which result in a discharge to waters of the state; (c) upsets or bypasses around or within a wastewater treatment facility during dry or wet weather conditions that are due to factors unrelated to a wet weather storm event and that result in a discharge of sewage that has not been fully treated to waters of the state; and (d) any other untreated discharges from a wastewater treatment facility to separate storm sewer systems.
  2. Submit a follow-up Overflow and Incidents Report within 12 hours of discovery with notification to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s online event reporting system and to the local health officer.
  3. Post a permanent sign at each combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall.
  4. Post temporary signs at any public access areas downstream of sewage releases or other untreated discharges from the WWTF.

Posting a Public Alert. Within one hour of discovery of an untreated sewage discharge, WWTF operators must submit a public alert to DEC's electronic alert system. This system is operational and we have attached instructions on how operators can access and post to this system. Once you have entered the required information, your public alert will be immediately available for public viewing on the DEC website. DEC is currently developing a system for the public to sign up to receive text and email notifications when public alerts are submitted.
 
Submitting a Follow-Up Overflow and Incident Report to the Department. WWTF operators must also notify DEC and local public health officers of each untreated sewage discharge from the WWTF within 12 hours of discovery. The department's existing online reporting system (ANROnline) has been expanded to meet this new law. Many municipalities already have access to this system for CSO event reporting. WWTF operators who do not have access to this system will need to establish an account.
 
Post Permanent Signs at Each CSO Outfall. WWTFs will now be required to post permanent signage at every CSO outfall. DEC made signs for each CSO outfall in Vermont. These signs have been modeled after CSO outfall signs required under New York’s CSO notice law.  Please post a sign so that it can be readily seen at each of your CSO outfalls ASAP.  DEC will coordinate directly with the WWTFs with CSO outfalls in getting these signs to you.
 
Posting of Temporary Signs at Public Access Areas. WWTF operators will be required to post temporary signs at public access areas downstream of sewage discharges and other unpermitted discharges identified by the Secretary that may pose a threat to human health or the environment.  The signs must remain in place for 48 hours after the untreated or unpermitted discharge has stopped.
 
DEC understands that WWTF operators will likely have questions on how to comply with this new law.   For general questions on these new notice requirements, contact Ernie Kelley, Wastewater Program Manager, at 802-490-6187 or ernie.kelley@vermont.gov.  For specific questions on how to establish an account for the 12-hour online reporting system, contact Greg Lutchko, DEC Systems Coordinator, at 802-272-4529, or greg.lutchko@vermont.gov.