“SEQRA” stands for the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act. Sometimes, it is shortened to “SEQR”— State Environmental Quality Review.
SEQR is a New York State law that requires certain projects be reviewed to determine if they might have a “significant adverse impact” on the environment. The law stipulates which types of projects must be reviewed, the topics that may be studied and how to determine what actions might constitute a significant adverse impact on the environment.
In some cases, the SEQR regulations require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is prepared by the owner or sponsor of the project and is reviewed by the Lead Agency. The Lead Agency is the agency principally responsible for carrying out, funding or approving the proposed project. WJWW is both the project sponsor and Lead Agency for this project; this has been confirmed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which is the agency that implements and oversees SEQRA.
An Involved Agency issues permits, funding or other decisions directly related to the project. The Lead Agency often coordinates the review with other involved agencies to ensure all comments and concerns are addressed. An Interested Agency may have an interest in the project, but has no direct involvement through permitting or funding, with the project.
SEQRA outlines topics that can be reviewed under the Act and provides a procedure for how the review must be undertaken. Only those topics that might create a “moderate to large” environmental impact need to be addressed through SEQR. In preparing a Draft EIS (DEIS), a Lead Agency must follow these steps:
- Establish Lead Agency — WJWW established itself as Lead Agency on January 28, 2020 and notified any involved or interested agencies according to the requirements of SEQR. The NYS DEC confirmed WJWW as Lead Agency on March 10, 2021.
- Determine Significance — WJWW determined that this project is an Unlisted action under SEQRA and may result in one or more significant impacts. An EIS was determined to be necessary.
- Prepare a Scope — The scope is the document that outlines the DEIS. It describes the project, permitting agencies, the topics to be studied and specifically how those topics will be studied. The public and interested or involved agencies must be provided an opportunity to review and comment on the scope, in person or in writing, prior to the formal adoption of the scope by the Lead Agency.
- Notice of Final Scope — The Lead Agency must review the comments on the scope and may amend the scope to address relevant comments. The Lead Agency must then vote to adopt the scope and file a notice of Final Scope with the NYS DEC, which indicates that the project sponsor should begin preparing the DEIS.
- Prepare DEIS — Once the Scope is finalized, the DEIS will be prepared in accordance with the Scope.
- Determine if DEIS is Complete — Upon completion, the DEIS is submitted to the Lead Agency for review. The Lead Agency will review the DEIS and compare it to the Scope to determine if the DEIS is complete. The DEIS must sufficiently address all items outlined in the Scope in order for the DEIS to be deemed complete.
- Public Review and Comment — Within 30 days of receiving a completed DEIS, the Lead Agency will hold a public hearing and allow for the receipt of written comments. Permitting agencies, interested agencies and members of the public may provide comment on the DEIS. The project sponsor must respond to all of the comments. This response is considered the Final EIS, or FEIS.
- Notice of Completion of Final EIS — The Lead Agency will review the FEIS and confirm that all comments have been sufficiently answered. Once deemed complete, the Lead Agency will file a notice with the NYS DEC indicating that the FEIS has been accepted by the Lead Agency.
- Lead Agency Findings and Decision — The FEIS should contain enough information for the Lead Agency to determine whether any potential adverse impacts from the project can be sufficiently mitigated. The Lead Agency will then issue a decision to this effect.
All documents related to the SEQR process for the WJWW Water Filtration Plant will be accessible on this webpage.
Dated: March 23, 2021
PUBLIC NOTICE OF POSITIVE DECLARATION, AVAILABILITY OF DRAFT SCOPE AND PUBLIC SCOPING SESSION
The Draft Scope was circulated and otherwise made available on March 23 for review and comment for a period of 30 days. During the comment period, a public scoping session was conducted virtually on April 13 at 5:00 p.m. The initial 30-day comment period, set to expire on April 23, was extended by two weeks until May 10th at 5:00 p.m. The Notice of Extension was circulated in the same manner as the original Notice.