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Water Management

The Water Compliance Specialist of the Environment, Health and Safety Office administers the following environmental Water Programs:

Concentrated Animal Feed Operations

This program covers regulatory requirements associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).  Program applicability depends on the number of animals maintained and respective operations.

Municipal Sanitary Sewer

Wastewater from the majority of buildings on Cornell campus discharge to the local Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) - the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility (IAWWTF).  Discharges to the public system must comply with the local sewer use regulations and the Industrial User Permit issued to Cornell University.

Onsite Wastewater Discharge

Program is applicable to facilities that have on-site wastewater disposal systems and dispose of wastewater on-site, or have a discrete discharge to surface or ground water. Includes requirements for septic systems, drywells, non-stormwater discharges to the ground surface, etc.  Permits are needed for some discharges. These discharges are primarily associated with CU facilities in other parts of the state and not the Ithaca Campus.


Activities or operations that can affect stormwater quality and/or quantity are subject to this program. This includes construction projects (even small projects) and other activities that might generate wastewater or material debris that could contaminate precipitation runoff. Permits are sometimes necessary and all projects must abide by local and state regulations.

Stream Disturbance

The protection of waters program assures compliance with regulations that protect physical, chemical and biological characteristics of rivers, streams, lakes and other surface waters from harmful activities in the water body.  Activities in or near surface waters may require special permits and need to be reviewed to determine applicable requirements.

Water Supply

The Public Water Supply program regulates permanently installed systems providing piped water to the public for drinking and other potable purposes.

Water Withdrawal

The Great Lakes Water Withdrawal program assures proper registration, recording, and reporting of groundwater and surface water withdrawals (usage) over specific agricultural and non-agricultural thresholds by Cornell University within the Great Lakes Basin.


All natural and man-made University owned wetlands (areas of water or wet soils that support wetland vegetation) are potentially regulated by state and/or federal regulatory programs. Numerous factors affect whether or not a particular activity in or near a particular wetland will require permits, therefore all activities potentially impacting wetlands must be reviewed for regulatory applicability.