Wastewater incidents, which include plant upsets, bypasses, sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and other wastewater spills can pose a threat to the environment and public health. To minimize the impact of a wastewater incident, an owner or operator must provide immediate notification and appropriate response.
Spills greater than 1,000 gallons, or which may threaten the environment or public health, must be reported by the owner or operator to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through a toll-free, 24-hour hotline known as the State Watch Office. This information should also be provided to the district office or delegated local program by phone, email or through the DEP Business Portal SSO reporting tool.
Residents and visitors are also encouraged to report any suspected wastewater incidents to the toll-free number.
DEP State Watch Office
In most cases, wastewater spills can be contained and much of the released volume can be recovered for proper treatment. Less than 20% of spills make their way to surface water. If 1,000 gallons or less was released and there was no threat to the environment or public health, the responsible party is not required to contact the State Watch Office. However, they must notify their district office or delegated local program of any unauthorized discharge.
DEP staff follow-up on wastewater incident reports and work with the facility to ensure remedial actions are taken. DEP also works with local health agencies to ensure that appropriate public health warnings are issued immediately. Interested parties may subscribe for updates from the Public Notice of Pollution website. Although timely follow-up and reporting are top priorities, DEP's primary compliance efforts are to prevent spills by ensuring facilities are properly constructed, operated and maintained.
Sanitary Sewer Overflows and CMOM
CMOM stands for Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance for sanitary sewer collection systems. The Management, Operation and Maintenance (MOM) Programs Project is a pilot enforcement approach developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 4 to bring municipal sewer systems into full compliance with the Clean Water Act by eliminating SSOs from municipal sewer systems.
The State Watch Office is a situational awareness hub located in the State Emergency Operations Center. The office works around the clock to collect and share information with its emergency response partners. Under Florida Statutes, certain incidents, including wastewater releases, must be reported to the State Watch Office.
Where are the requirements for wastewater spill reporting?
Contact information of person reporting the spill and the responsible party.
Date and time the discharge (beginning and end).
Status of the discharge (ongoing or ceased).
Characteristics of the wastewater spilled or released (untreated or treated, industrial or domestic wastewater).
Estimated amount of the discharge (in gallons).
Location or address of the discharge.
Source and cause of the discharge.
Whether the discharge was contained on-site, and any cleanup actions taken to date.
Description of area affected by the discharge, including name of water body affected, if any.
Other persons or agencies contacted.
What happens after a spill is reported to the State Watch Office?
A copy of the report is emailed to the DEP District Office, Office of Emergency Response (OER), the affected county’s emergency management and the Florida Department of Health. DEP staff follow-up on wastewater incident reports and work with the facility to ensure remedial actions are taken. DEP also works with local health agencies to ensure that appropriate public health warnings are issued immediately. Interested parties may subscribe for updates from the Public Notice of Pollution website.
For more information on spill reporting, contact the appropriate DEP district office or the Water Compliance Enforcement program at 850-245-8585.
June 19, 2023 - 11:10am
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.