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Emergency stream permit ends Saturday

The Emergency Authorization granted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that allowed local governments and landowners to conduct emergency construction and repairs in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee expires Oct. 8 with the exception of three counties in the Southern Tier, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.  “Restoring streams is important work and it must be done properly to ensure lives, property and the environment are protected,” Commissioner Martens said. “Doing the work the right way minimizes the potential for future flood events while safeguarding the aquatic habitats.  DEC will continue to collaborate with communities and move quickly to authorize work while ensuring protective standards are followed.” To complete and initiate repair work after Oct. 8 outside of Broome, Chenango and Tioga counties, local governments and landowners will need to obtain a General Permit from DEC. For those in the Adirondack Park, DEC will coordinate with the Adirondack Park Agency to obtain necessary approvals. Currently, DEC makes site visits within five days of receiving a request. DEC plans to continue to expedite review of requests to begin repair work.

DEC has completed more than 1,300 site visits in the affected areas since Aug. 28, which resulted in documenting approximately 500 Emergency Authorizations and issuing approximately 600 General Permits.

DEC staff is working collaboratively with the NYS Department of Transportation, the Adirondack Park Agency and local governments to inspect work performed under Emergency Authorizations to help ensure no unnecessary harm was done, and the environment and property are protected during future storm events.  In cases where work may have been improperly completed, DEC is working with local municipalities to help ensure waterways are adequately repaired to prevent future floods and preserve habitat.

Municipalities and landowners that performed work under the Emergency Authorization but have not yet contacted DEC are asked to do so by contacting their regional permit administrator. After Oct. 8, municipalities and private landowners should follow the General Permit guidelines to obtain the required authorization to complete or start repairs by contacting their regional permit administrator. Contact information for permit administrators can be found here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/gp2011storms.pdf.

DEC outlined best practices for performing repairs to streams and other waterways under both Emergency Authorizations and General Permits:

  • Minimize the creation or potential release of turbid (muddy) water into a waterbody;
  • Do not pile excavated materials on stream banks and do not construct berms next to streams;
  • Consult DEC before any stream channel activity, including dredging, is performed;
  • Restore stream channels to their pre-flood characteristics including such factors as cross sectional shape, gradient and bottom type (gravel, rocks, boulders etc.). Streams should not be widened or deepened;
  • Design and build bridges to safely pass flood flows without causing restrictions that can cause damming and additional flooding.  Proper design can have additional benefits such as not constraining aquatic life movement.

More information on proper techniques required under the General Permit is summarized in a fact sheet, which can be viewed at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/genpermitfs2011.pdf.

The general permit’s terms and conditions can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/genprmt.pdf.

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