The City of Schenectady has enacted a stormwater ordinance in order to safeguard persons, protect property, and prevent damage to the environment in the City of Schenectady, New York and to comply with state and federal regulations. Stormwater runoff normally cannot be treated in the same way as accomplished by sewage and wastewater treatment plants. More often than not, end-of-pipe controls are not the best answer for removing pollutants from stormwater runoff. Pollutants in runoff enter our waterways in numerous ways and the best way of control is usually at the pollutant's source. Sometimes, significant improvements can be made by employing best management practices, or "BMPs". Proper storage of chemicals, good housekeeping and just plain paying attention to what's happening during runoff events can lead to relatively inexpensive ways of preventing pollutants from getting into the runoff in the first place and then our waterways.
The EPA and the NYSDEC are increasing their attention in several ways. A federal regulation, commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, requires permits for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas and for construction activities disturbing one or more acres. To implement the law, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued two general permits, one for MS4s in urbanized areas and one for construction activities. The permits are part of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES).
The stormwater ordinance also promotes the public welfare by guiding, regulating, and controlling the design, construction, use, and maintenance of any land development activity as it relates to erosion and sedimentation control and stormwater management. Further objectives of the ordinance are:
Inspection programs shall be established on any reasonable basis, including but not limited to routine inspections; random inspections; inspections based upon complaints or other notice of possible violations; and joint inspections with other agencies inspecting under environmental or safety laws. Inspections may include but are not limited to reviewing maintenance and repair records; sampling discharges, surface water, groundwater, and material or water in drainage facilities; and evaluating the condition of drainage control facilities and other stormwater management practices.
Notice of violation.
The operator and all contractors and subcontractors must comply with all conditions of a SWPPP submitted pursuant to this article. In the event that the City of Schenectady determines that a land development activity is not being carried out in accordance with the requirements of this article, the Stormwater Management Officer, may issue a written notice of violation to the operator/landowner, applicant and all contractors/subcontractors subject to the provisions of this article. The notice of violation shall contain:
Within 15 days of notification of violation (or as otherwise provided by the City of Schenectady), the violator shall take the remedial measures necessary to bring the land development activity into compliance with this article.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and each day during which any violation of any of the provisions of this article is committed, continued, or permitted shall constitute a separate offense. Upon conviction of any such violation, such person, partnership, or corporation shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250 for each offense. In addition to any other penalty authorized by this section, any person, partnership, or corporation convicted of violating any of the provisions of this article shall be required to bear the expense of such restoration. To the extent that the noncompliance with this article constitutes a violation of the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Conservation Law, there may be substantial criminal, civil, and administrative penalties depending upon the nature and degree of the offense.
Prohibition of illegal discharges.
No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged into the MS4 any materials other than stormwater except as provided in the following subsection. Any discharge besides these exceptions will be considered an illicit discharge by the City of Schenectady. The commencement, conduct or continuance of any illegal discharge to the MS4 is prohibited except as described as follows:
Prohibition of illicit connections.
The construction, use, maintenance or continued existence of illicit connections to the MS4 is prohibited.
This prohibition expressly includes, without limitation, illicit connections made in the past, regardless of whether the connection was permissible under law or practices applicable or prevailing at the time of connection.
A person is considered to be in violation of this article if the person connects a line conveying sewage to the municipality's MS4 or allows such a connection to continue.
Activities that are subject to the requirements of this section are those types of activities that:
[Special Conditions from Definitions]
A. Discharge compliance with water quality standards: the condition that applies where a municipality has been notified that the discharge of stormwater authorized under their MS4 permit may have caused or has the reasonable potential to cause or contribute to the violation of an applicable water quality standard. Under this condition, the municipality must take all necessary actions to ensure future discharges do not cause or contribute to a violation of water quality standards.
B. 303(d) listed waters: the condition in the municipality's MS4 permit that applies where the MS4 discharges to a 303(d) listed water. Under this condition, the stormwater management program must ensure no increase of the listed pollutant of concern to the 303(d) listed water.
C. Total maximum daily load (TMDL) strategy: the condition in the municipality's MS4 permit where a TMDL including requirements for control of stormwater discharges has been approved by EPA for a water body or watershed into which the MS4 discharges. If the discharge from the MS4 did not meet the TMDL stormwater allocations prior to September 10, 2003, the municipality was required to modify its stormwater management program to ensure that reduction of the pollutant of concern specified in the TMDL is achieved.
D. The condition in the municipality's MS4 permit that applies if a TMDL is approved in the future by EPA for any water body or watershed into which an MS4 discharges: Under this condition, the municipality must review the applicable TMDL to see if it includes requirements for control of stormwater discharges. If an MS4 is not meeting the TMDL stormwater allocations, the municipality must, within six months of the TMDL's approval, modify its stormwater management program to ensure that reduction of the pollutant of concern specified in the TMDL is achieved.
[End Special Conditions]
Upon notification to a person that he or she is engaged in activities that cause or contribute to violations of the municipality's MS4 SPDES permit authorization, that person shall take all reasonable actions to correct such activities such that he or she no longer causes or contributes to violations of the municipality's MS4 SPDES permit authorization.
Best management practices.
Where the SMO has identified illicit discharges or activities contaminating stormwater, the municipality may require implementation of best management practices (BMPs) to control those illicit discharges and activities.
The owner or operator of a commercial or industrial establishment shall provide, at his or her own expense, reasonable protection from accidental discharge of prohibited materials or other wastes into the MS4 through the use of structural and nonstructural BMPs.
Any person responsible for a property or premises, which is, or may be, the source of an illicit discharge or an activity contaminating stormwater, may be required to implement, at said person's expense, additional structural and nonstructural BMPs to reduce or eliminate the source of pollutant(s) to the MS4.
Compliance with all terms and conditions of a valid SPDES permit authorizing the discharge of stormwater associated with industrial activity, to the extent practicable, shall be deemed compliance with the provisions of this section.
Repair or replace individual sewage treatment systems as follows:
Illicit discharges in emergency situations.
The SMO may, without prior notice, suspend MS4 discharge access to a person when such suspension is necessary to stop an actual or threatened discharge which presents or may present imminent and substantial danger to the environment, to the health or welfare of persons, or to the MS4. The SMO shall notify the person of such suspension within a reasonable time thereafter in writing of the reasons for the suspension. If the violator fails to comply with a suspension order issued in an emergency, the SMO may take such steps as deemed necessary to prevent or minimize damage to the MS4 or to minimize danger to persons.
Suspension due to the detection of illicit discharge.
Any person discharging to the municipality's MS4 in violation of this article may have his or her MS4 access terminated if such termination would abate or reduce an illicit discharge. The SMO will notify a violator in writing of the proposed termination of its MS4 access and the reasons therefor. The violator may petition the SMO for a reconsideration and hearing. Access may be granted by the SMO if he/she finds that the illicit discharge has ceased and the discharger has taken steps to prevent its recurrence. Access may be denied if the SMO determines in writing that the illicit discharge has not ceased or is likely to recur. A person commits an offense if the person reinstates MS4 access to premises terminated pursuant to this section without the prior approval of the SMO.
Access to facilities.
(1) The SMO shall be permitted to enter and inspect facilities subject to regulation under this article as often as may be necessary to determine compliance with this article. If a discharger has security measures in force which require proper identification and clearance before entry into its premises, the discharger shall make the necessary arrangements to allow access to the SMO.
(2) Facility operators shall allow the SMO ready access to all parts of the premises for the purposes of inspection, sampling, examination and copying of records as may be required to implement this article.
(3) The municipality shall have the right to set up on any facility subject to this article such devices as are necessary in the opinion of the SMO to conduct monitoring and/or sampling of the facility's stormwater discharge.
(4) The municipality has the right to require the facilities subject to this article to install monitoring equipment as is reasonably necessary to determine compliance with this article. The facility's sampling and monitoring equipment shall be maintained at all times in a safe and proper operating condition by the discharger at its own expense. All devices used to measure stormwater flow and quality shall be calibrated to ensure their accuracy.
(5) Unreasonable delays in allowing the municipality access to a facility subject to this article is a violation of this article. A person who is the operator of a facility subject to this article commits an offense if the person denies the municipality reasonable access to the facility for the purpose of conducting any activity authorized or required by this article.
(6) If the SMO has been refused access to any part of the premises from which stormwater is discharged, and he/she is able to demonstrate probable cause to believe that there may be a violation of this article, or that there is a need to inspect and/or sample as part of a routine inspection and sampling program designed to verify compliance with this article or any order issued hereunder, then the SMO may seek issuance of a search warrant from any court of competent jurisdiction.
Notwithstanding other requirements of law, as soon as any person responsible for a facility or operation, or responsible for emergency response for a facility or operation has information of any known or suspected release of materials which are resulting or may result in illegal discharges or pollutants discharging into the MS4, said person shall take all necessary steps to ensure the discovery, containment, and cleanup of such release. In the event of such a release of hazardous materials, said person shall immediately notify emergency response agencies of the occurrence via emergency dispatch services. In the event of a release of nonhazardous materials, said person shall notify the municipality in person or by telephone or facsimile no later than the next business day. Notifications in person or by telephone shall be confirmed by written notice addressed and mailed to the municipality within three business days of the telephone notice. If the discharge of prohibited materials emanates from a commercial or industrial establishment, the owner or operator of such establishment shall also retain an on-site written record of the discharge and the actions taken to prevent its recurrence. Such records shall be retained for at least three years.
Notice of violation.
When the municipality's SMO finds that a person has violated a prohibition or failed to meet a requirement of this article, he/she may order compliance by written notice of violation to the responsible person. Such notice may require, without limitation:
If abatement of a violation and/or restoration of affected property is required, the notice shall set forth a deadline within which such remediation or restoration must be completed. Said notice shall further advise that, should the violator fail to remediate or restore within the established deadline, the work will be done by a designated governmental agency or a contractor and the expense thereof shall be charged to the violator.
In addition to or as an alternative to any penalty provided herein or by law, any person who violates the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a violation punishable by a fine not exceeding $350 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months, or both for conviction of a first offense; for conviction of a second offense, both of which were committed within a period of five years, punishable by a fine not less than $350 nor more than $700 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months, or both; and upon conviction for a third or subsequent offense, all of which were committed within a period of five years, punishable by a fine not less than $700 nor more than $1,000 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months, or both. However, for the purposes of conferring jurisdiction upon courts and judicial officers generally, violations of this article shall be deemed misdemeanors and for such purpose only all provisions of law relating to misdemeanors shall apply to such violations. Each week's continued violation shall constitute a separate additional violation.
In addition to the enforcement processes and penalties provided, any condition caused or permitted to exist in violation of any of the provisions of this article is a threat to public health, safety, and welfare, and is declared and deemed a nuisance, and may be summarily abated or restored at the violator's expense, and/or a civil action to abate, enjoin, or otherwise compel the cessation of such nuisance may be taken.
Schenectady County Environmental Health