Peconic Great South Baykeeper
Clean Water Enforcement

The Clean Water Act is the single most important law with which we fight water pollution.  The Act contains a number of prohibitions and also incentives to improve water quality.  At its core, it prohibits the discharge of pollutants to surface waters unless in accordance with a permit.  The permits are intended to limit the amount of pollutants through technology and/or water quality based standards.

There are two types of permits.  The first are known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and these are administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or, as is the case in New York, by the state in a federally approved program.  In New York these are called State Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System (SPDES) permits.  These are your typical discharge permits, granted to sewage treatment works and all kinds of industries for process water.  Each permittee is required to maintain Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) as required by their permit, enumerating such things as flow and concentrations of specified pollutants.  We maintain a data base of all such permits in our mission waters and periodically review the DMRs to ensure the permittees' compliance. The second type of permits are known as CWA permits. They are for the discharge of dredge or fill material into waters of the United States.  These permits are administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  We review all applications of record of all Corps permits on Long Island.

The Act also requires the maintenance of water quality standards.  The state classifies all its waters under this requirement, based upon uses (such a shellfishing) and also upon physical and biological characteristics (such as the amount of dissolved oxygen), for each numbered water body segment.  Should the water quality in a segment fall below its classification, it is known as an impaired water under section 303d of the Act and a plan for its restoration must be developed.  We track water quality where it appears the water body may be impaired.  In the case of the Forge River, we monitored the water quality and then successfully petitioned for its designation as an impaired water.  (See Save the Forge River).

We also monitor all proposed regulations that affect water quality standards.  We presently have pending our comments on proposed revisions to some standards, some of which we applaud, and others to which we filed our objections.

The Act also institutes the National Estuary Program.   The Peconic Estuary is one of twenty-eight designated estuaries, which provides for federal oversight and money to develop and implement a protection plan.  The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) was adopted in 2001 and Peconic Baykeeper is a member of its Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and Technical Advisory Committee.  See Peconic Estuary Program

 



Related Files

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Contaminated dredge spoil
Mosquito ditch discharge