By STEVE JONES Staff writer

NEW RULES FOR OVERFLOWS — An aerial view of Rome’s Waste Water Treatment Plant on lower East Dominick Street. Communities face new reporting rules on overflows. (Sentinel file photo)

Because Rome’s sanitary sewer and storm water systems are separate, the chances of an untreated sewage spill into the Mohawk River are extremely rare, said Public Works Commissioner Frank D. Tallarino Jr. reacting to a new state law about notification in such a case.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a requirement that the 643 municipal sewage treatment plants in New York State must notify the public when they release untreated sewage into a state waterway. The requirement will start in the spring.

Publicly owned plants and sewage systems will have to tell the state and local officials within two hours of a discharge, as well as any overflows from systems like New York City’s that combine sanitary sewage and storm water. Rome does not combine those systems, Tallarino noted.

Rome’s waste water treatment plant on Lower East Dominick Street discharges treated water into the Mohawk River in east Rome, Tallarino said, adding the city has not released untreated water into state waterways during his time as commissioner, which started almost nine years ago. In Rome, rain water can enter the sanitary sewer system.

The new rules will require notification to the state and local officials within two hours, and notification of the public within four hours via the media. Under the old law, plants had to notify officials within two hours after discharges affecting public swimming areas, shell fishing areas and public drinking water intakes.