DW Engineering Review


The goal of reviewing water system plans is to verify that the proposed system meets minimum engineering standards, associated State and Federal requirements, and will be able to reasonably operate within required drinking water quality llimits.

Treatment is often the most complicated part of an engineering submittal. If a water system cannot meet federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for primary contaminants (40 CFR 141 Subpart F), the system must install treatment. Treatment is not required for secondary contaminants and taste and odor issues unless there is a documented risk to public health, or a secondary standard interferes with the treatment of a primary standard.

The plan review process for public water systems consist of 2 major stages:

  • Construction Approval
  • Operation Approval

The annual, statewide average time for review of engineered plans is currently 33 days. Plan review times typically exceed 30 days for the busy spring and fall months. We review approximately 650 plans a year statewide. The following can help us provide the most efficient reviews possible for your project:

  • Ask questions early in the process. It is harder to correct fundamental problems for a system as it nears the end of the design process.
  • Please follow the posted submittal checklists. Complete submittal packets improve our efficiency and the review times for everyone.
  • Check and verify required separation distances. This is the most common reason why projects get delayed. There may be confusion on who should be verifying these distances. If the separation distance will affect your project, you need to verify it. If a separation distance waiver is needed it is easier and faster to address it with the plan submittal than to prepare a waiver submittal while machinery is idling at the construction site.
  • Submit plans as far in advance as possible from the time you wish to start construction. We will try and work with everyone's schedule, but in the busy months it is hard to meet requests for rapid review for multiple people.
  • The consultant and the water system owner should maintain good communications. Owner's should keep track of key project tasks and requirements. We copy in both the water system owner and their engineer on all correspondence. Consultants also are very busy during the construction season. Many owner's rely heavily on their engineer. However, the owner of the water system is ultimately responsible for making sure that plans are submitted and Department approvals are received. Owner's should verify that their engineer has submitted needed information.
  • Obtain needed approvals prior to construction. It is much harder, and sometimes impossible, to address issues after a system is constructed. In one recent case subcontractors unknowingly installed a new private sewer within 20 feet of an existing public well. The required separation distance is 100 feet. In this case either the sewer or the well had to be moved.


Constructing or modifying a system without DEC approval violates State statutes and regulations, can result in enforcement action against the owner of a system, can result in an increased risk to public health, and can significantly delay a project.