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New York Finalizes Water Withdrawal Permitting Rules

By: Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz

Last week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) finalized regulations requiring permits for surface water and groundwater withdrawals exceeding 100,000 gallons per day.  Previously, water withdrawals exceeding that threshold had to be reported to DEC, but permits were only required for drinking water suppliers.

The new permitting regime is expected to cover a broad range of manufacturing, business, and industrial water users, as well as hydraulic fracturing operations that inject large volumes of water into shale formations to extract natural gas.  Agricultural water withdrawals are subject to more flexible monthly, as opposed to daily, permitting thresholds, and groundwater pumping at inactive hazardous waste remedial sites under a consent order or agreement is exempt from state permitting requirements.

The first deadline for permit applications – beginning with systems that withdraw or capable of withdrawing 100 million gallons per day – is June 1, 2013.  The full permitting system will be phased in over the next five years, although parties that previously reported water withdrawals to DEC under existing state law may be eligible for a streamlined “initial permit” process that incorporates their existing water withdrawal capacity.

 The water withdrawal regulations were initially proposed a year ago, and they implement legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo in August 2011.  For more information on water withdrawal permitting, contact Dan RieselMichael Lesser or Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz.

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