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.
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. The sign-up process was recently improved and takes 5-7 minutes:
- Go to https://alert.ny.gov/
- Click the “Sign Up” button
- To Create an account –Provide name and email, then answer security questions
- Under My Subscriptions choose “Edit”
- Scroll down to choose your county – (Westchester, Bronx, Queens, Nassau or Suffolk) and deselect all options
- Then choose only “Westchester County – Sewage Discharge Notifications” or whichever county for which you are applying.
- If you prefer, you can also use this system to sign up for Amber Alerts, Weather alerts, Marine Zone alerts.
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 – https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/101187.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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, we encourage you to contact local authorities and remind them to report the incident in the NY-Alert system.
You can also check out our instructions on being a watchdog.