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Proposed Rules: Open to Comments

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Agency:
Comment By: 
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP” or “Department”) proposes to amend its rules governing the use of the public sewers (Title 15, chapter 19 of the Rules of the City of New York (“RCNY”)) to clarify language, update references to national standards and local codes, and to reflect changes in technology and practice related to the use of the public sewers.

The proposed amendments would make Chapter 19 clearer and more detailed and comprehensive, in order to make it easier for the regulated community to determine what needs to be done to attain compliance. In addition, the proposed amendments would provide the City with adequate legal authority to prohibit illicit discharges as required by the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which was issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on August 1, 2015 pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act. The MS4 permit requires the City to develop and implement measures to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff, and significantly expands the City’s previous obligations to reduce pollutants discharging to the MS4 areas. Numerous City agencies have significant responsibilities under the MS4 permit. The Department is responsible for coordinating the interagency efforts to meet the City’s MS4 permit requirements.

The proposed amendments to §19-01 Definitions would:

- Add the New York City Plumbing Code (hereinafter the “Plumbing Code”) definitions for “automatic grease removal device” and “grease interceptor” because the Plumbing Code distinguishes between the two. Currently Chapter 19 only refers to the sizing requirements for “grease interceptors” without addressing “automatic grease removal devices,” which are becoming increasingly common.
- Make Chapter 19 more consistent with the Plumbing Code in definitions and terminology by amending or adding definitions for “building drain,” “building drainage system,” “building sewer,” “clear water waste,” “combined sewer,” “groundwater,” and “potable water.”
- Add a definition for “bypass” from 40 CFR 122.41(m)(1)(i) and from the Industrial Wastewater Discharge permits issued by DEP.
- Delete the definition of “direct discharge.”
- Clarify the definition of “discharge” by describing a discharge as not only the release or introduction of a substance to the public sewer but also the “placement” of a substance therein.
- Clarify the definition of “effluent” by limiting it to combined or sanitary sewers because as used in this chapter the term cannot refer to discharges to the MS4.
- Add a definition for “food waste disposer.” Also, the proposed amendments specify in §19-03(b) that food waste disposers are permitted only within dwelling units, as it does in Plumbing Code § 413.1 and Administrative Code § 24-518.1(b).
- Add a definition for “grease retention capacity” to clarify a currently undefined term which is used in Chapter 19.
- Change “extraction solvent” to “extractant” in the definition of “non-polar material” and “oil and grease” in case the Environmental Protection Administration prescribes an extractant that is not a solvent.
- Clarify the definition of “pre-treatment” to specify discharges to a sanitary or combined sewer.
- Add a definition for “reduced pressure zone device” from 15 RCNY §20-10 because the term is used in the definition of “clear water waste.”
- Amend the definition of “sewer” to include conveyance of storm water.
- Clarify the definition of “sewer surcharge” to specify discharges to a sanitary or combined sewer.
- Clarify the definition of “shredded garbage” to specify conditions in a sanitary or combined sewer.
- Change “water pollution control plant” to “wastewater treatment plant” because the latter is the term that is currently used by DEP in all of its literature.
- Clarify the definition of “wastewater,” by adding “contaminated stormwater runoff” and “any liquid that is conveyed by means of a pump or a hose” so that it is understood that these are also considered wastewater.
- Add a definition for “yellow grease,” because of proposed new paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (v) of section 19-11 related to yellow grease.
- Add definitions for “gravity grease interceptor” and “hydromechanical grease interceptor” in order to add sizing requirements for gravity grease interceptors while clarifying that the existing sizing requirements apply to hydromechanical grease interceptors.
- Add a definition for “green infrastructure” and include it in the definition of “sewerage system” in order to ban the discharge of prohibited substances into such infrastructure, and protect such infrastructure from damage.

The proposed amendments to §19-02 Disposal of Wastewater, Stormwater and Groundwater clarify the rules to better describe the existing process for obtaining permits for such discharges. The proposed changes also include a new self-certification process for discharges of 10,000 gallons per day or less to avoid a lengthy review for such discharges if a licensed New York State Professional Engineer certifies that the discharge is in compliance with the Department’s pollutant limits. This is consistent with the spirit of the current regulatory language which does not require a permit for such discharges.

Regarding unauthorized connections to the sewer system, the proposed amendments clarify that the owner of the property with the unauthorized connection is liable for correcting the violation, and for all related expenses. Additionally, the proposed amendments state that DEP could choose to do the necessary work where circumstances may warrant, the expenses for which shall become due and payable by the property owner and constitute a lien upon the property. These powers are an important option for DEP in circumstances where it deems it preferable to do the work than to terminate water and sewer service. Examples of such circumstances are where there are particularly vulnerable individuals living on the premises, such as children, the elderly, or people with a health condition.

Also, the proposed amendments specify that groundwater discharge permits and/or letters of approval are for the “temporary” discharge of groundwater. This is meant to deter groundwater dischargers from continuing to tax the capacity of the sewer by the continuous renewal of permits and letters of approval to discharge groundwater rather than implementing a permanent engineering solution to a groundwater infiltration problem.

The proposed amendments to §19-03 Materials and Substances Excluded from Public Sewers clarify the section and add more harmful substances to the list of substances that are excluded from the public sewer. In addition, the proposed amendments replace certain references to “public sewer” with “combined or sanitary sewer” to clarify that the section is applicable only to combined and sanitary sewers. The term “public sewer” is retained in portions of this section that are applicable to combined, sanitary and storm sewers.

The proposed amendments to §19-04 Toxic Substances Accepted Conditionally, help to ensure that pretreatment systems are not just installed but installed correctly, and to prohibit the bypassing of such systems. In addition, the proposed amendments replace references to “public sewer” with “combined or sanitary sewer” to clarify that this section is applicable only to combined and sanitary sewers.

The proposed amendments to §19-05 Permit for Industrial Wastewater Discharge, §19-06 Removal, Transportation and Disposition of Scavenger Wastes, §19-07 Best Management Practices Plans (BMPPs) for Persons Discharging Total Silver Halide Process Wastewater to the Public Sewer System, §19-10 General Provisions, and §19-12 Best Management Practices for Perchloroethylene Discharges to the Public Sewer System from Dry Cleaning Facilities clarify the rules consistent with what is needed based on the experience of DEP inspectors, and other enforcement personnel. In addition, the proposed amendments replace certain references to “public sewer” with “combined or sanitary sewer” to clarify that portions of these sections are applicable only to combined and sanitary sewers. The term “public sewer” is retained in portions of this section that are applicable to combined, sanitary and storm sewers.

The proposed amendments to §19-11 Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Non-Residential Direct and Indirect Dischargers of Grease to the Public Sewer System, are numerous and represent the first major overhaul of the “grease regulations” since 1998. They reflect 17 years of accumulated experience on the part of DEP’s inspectors and their purpose is to clarify the requirements, be more comprehensive, and provide greater enforcement tools to inspectors in fulfilling their duties to bring non-residential dischargers of grease into compliance.

In addition, some of the proposed changes would:

- Specify more fixtures that must be connected to a grease interceptor to avoid confusion by the regulated community.
- Specify more types of establishments that are covered by the BMPs to avoid confusion.
- Allow for compliance through the installation of automatic grease removal devices instead of just grease interceptors. This will conform to the Plumbing Code, which distinguishes between the two types of devices, and accomodate the increasing use of automatic grease removal devices.
- Require that the design, construction, and installation of grease interceptors and automatic grease removal devices not hinder the ability of inspectors to perform a dye test for the purpose of ascertaining connections to waste lines.
- Require that grease interceptors and automatic grease removal devices have a tamper proof distinguishing feature that will allow an inspector to determine what model the device or interceptor is, even when installed below grade.
- Add a minimum flow rate in gallons per minute to the minimum grease retention capacity in pounds in Tables I and II because automatic grease removal devices are rated by flow rate rather than grease retention capacity. Also, amendments to section 19-11(e) would require that the grease retention capacity in pounds for grease interceptors be at least twice the numerical flow rate in gallons per minute, because some grease interceptor manufacturers make interceptors which have retention capacities that are greater than twice the flow rate. Therefore, sizing only by minimum grease retention capacity could result in a grease interceptor being installed that cannot handle the flow from the fixtures it is tributary to.
- Replace the old method of calculating aggregate volume for the fixtures in Tables I and II with a more accurate method.
- Add detailed criteria for determining the sizing of grease interceptors and automatic grease removal devices tributary to automatic dishwashers, combination ovens, floor drains, woks, and automatic hood wash units.
- Add the 25% rule for maintenance of grease interceptors and automatic grease removal devices. The rule requires that all the fat, oil, grease, and solids be removed before 25% of the interceptor or device’s total liquid depth is exceeded. The 25% rule is an industry standard and is used by many municipalities across the country.
- Add sizing requirements for gravity grease interceptors. Since gravity grease interceptors are sized by storage capacity in gallons, rather than flow rate and grease retention capacity in pounds, they cannot be sized by the existing requirements which specify the required flow rate and grease retention capacity. Only hydromechanical grease interceptors are sized by flow rate and grease retention capacity in pounds. Therefore, for gravity grease interceptors, a means of converting the existing requirements into a minimum storage capacity in gallons has been inserted; i.e. the minimum required flow rate shall be multiplied by 3. The resulting number shall represent the minimum storage capacity in gallons if a gravity grease interceptor is installed. To arrive at this conversion, DEP looked at various hydromechanical grease interceptors and divided their total liquid volume to the static water level in cubic inches by 231 to derive the volume in US gallons. The resulting volumes were on average between 2 and 3 times the flow rate, which is why DEP is using 3 multiplied by the flow rate to determine what a comparable storage volume in gallons would be for gravity grease interceptors.
- Add more detailed sizing criteria for floor drains.
- Prohibit the use of emulsifiers, enzymes, chemicals, microbial agents, or other additives in grease interceptors or automatic grease removal devices because many of them send grease downstream creating the appearance of a well maintained device, while the grease reaches the sewer by mixing in with the wastewater. Some additives do not do anything to the grease while creating a disincentive for proper maintenance when the owner of the establishment thinks all that is needed is to use the additive without the need to clean out the unit.
- Require yellow grease (waste cooking oil) to be disposed of only through collection by carters licensed by the New York City Business Integrity Commission. This will help to prevent yellow grease from being discharged down the drain.
- Add a definition for “green infrastructure” and also include it in the definition of “sewerage system.” By doing so, damage to the green infrastructure is prohibited under 15 RCNY 19-10(b)(2), which prohibits damage to the sewerage system.
- Add green infrastructure to the ban against discharge of prohibited substances in 15 RCNY 19-03(a)(1) and 15 RCNY 19-02(e).
- Add wipes and other personal care products to the list of substances prohibited from being discharged to the public sewer in 15 RCNY 19-03(a)(1).
- Add a prohibition against discharging antifreeze to the public sewer.
- Add a prohibition against discharging hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to the public sewer in accordance with the new prohibition against the “sewering” of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals in 40 CFR 266.505. The DEP prohibition is stricter than the federal prohibition in that the former would only exempt such small quantities as may be present in normal household wastes, whereas the latter only apply to healthcare facilities and reverse distributors.

The proposed amendments also include minor plain language revisions.

Subject: 

Public Sewer Use Rules Revision Rule.

Location: 
NYC Department of Environmental Protection
59-17 Junction Blvd. 19 Floor Fishbowl Conference Room
Flushing, NY 11373
Contact: 

No contact

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf):