Sewage & Stormwater

New Yorkers: Sign Up for Sewage Overflow Alerts

Did you know sewage overflows have likely happened in your community? To find out when and where future overflows occur, sign up for text, emails or phone alerts from NY-ALERT (sign-up instructions below).

Thanks to the efforts of Save the Sound and other clean water advocates, New Yorkers now have a real-time notification system for sewage discharges affecting our waterways and access to historic sewage spills reports.

Save the Sound is urging the public and the press to sign up to receive these alerts and share them in your community.

How to Sign-up for NY-Alerts

The NY-ALERT system—which provides real-time alerts on topics ranging from extreme weather to road closures—is very convenient once you are registered. But the sign-up process is clunky, so to get started follow these steps:

  1. Go to http://www.nyalert.gov/
  2. Click the “Enroll” button
  3. Enter your information and click “Submit”
  4. Follow the directions to confirm your account and set up your notification preferences. Select public health notifications as one of your categories.
  5. On the next page in “Custom Warning Sets” click the “Add Set” button
  6. Select the “Environmental” category
  7. Select the “Environmental-Not Otherwise Categorized” subcategory to receive for sewage spill alerts
  8. Name the alert (i.e. “Sewage Spills”) and hit “Save” at the bottom of the screen

NOTE: NY-Alert only displays active alerts. To view the historic record of sewage spills go to the DEC website and click the first link on the page “Sewage Discharge Reports” to download an Excel spreadsheet of reported overflows since May 2013 – http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/90321.html

Why It’s Important: Sewage Releases Threaten Public Health & Our Waterways

The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law went into effect in May 2013. Since that time thousands of sewage overflows have been reported and made publicly available. This information is spurring local repairs and investment in wastewater infrastructure that will lessened the likelihood of future sewage spills and improve the health of your waterways.

SSO Blog Figure 9-3-2015

Sewage Pollution Right to Know Alerts Are Only A First Important Step

Save the Sound is asking DEC for wider distribution of these water quality alerts and enforcement penalties for the communities that are still reporting the sewage releases in their communities. We want local news outlets to be signed up to receive alerts and asked to broadcast them on the radio and TV to reach more people with this valuable real-time information. Water quality alerts should be delivered along with weather, traffic, and ozone alerts. If you agree, tell your local news outlet.

In addition to helping us get the word out on the alerts, you can help identify unreported and/or undiscovered sewage overflows in your community.

Stormwater manhole (credit Chris Zurcher) during an overflow event and afterwards.

Stormwater manhole (credit Chris Zurcher) during an overflow event and afterwards.

Be a Pollution Watchdog!

We encourage everyone to keep an eye out in your community for sewage overflows and when you see them to contact Save the Sound via pollution@savethesound.org. In addition, we encourage you to contact local authorities and remind them to report the incident in the NY-Alert system.

For more information on what you can do individually, visit our website. You can also check out our blog post to find instructions on being a watchdog.

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