EPA’s Electronic NPDES Reporting Final Rule

Posted on 10/22/2015 by Roger Marks

In the October 22, 2015, Federal Register, US EPA posted a Final Rule to require electronic reporting and sharing of data under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES. The rule was finalized on September 24 of this year. The Final Rule is effective starting December 21, 2015.

The rule will be implemented in two “phases.”

Among some common NPDES compliance monitoring reports and notices that will now be submitted electronically are:
  • Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs);
  • Notices of intent to discharge;
  • General permit waivers, certifications, notices of termination of coverage; and
  • Other program reports.
To submit NPDES information, facilities can use EPA’s e-reporting tool, a tool developed by a state authorized to implement the NPDES program, or third-party tools that meet the requirements of the proposed rule.

Discharge to the Waters of the United States

While the mode of submission will change from paper reports to electronic reports, the information required for NPDES reporting remains the same. EPA published a User Guide for this electronic reporting rulemaking, available here.

Implementation Phases for E-reporting

EPA will implement this new Final Rule in two phases. “Phase One,” to be complete one year after the effective date of the Final Rule, will cover electronic reporting for DMR—the largest volumes of data for the NPDES program. Also included in Phase 1 are Sewage Sludge/Biosolids Annual Program Reports.

In Phase Two, to be complete five years after the effective date of the Final Rule, EPA and authorized states must collect, manage, and share remaining sets of NPDES information, including general permit reports, Notices of Termination, No Exposure Certifications (NOE), MS4 Program Reports, CAFO annual program reports, and Sewer Overflow/Bypass Even Reports.

More NPDES Data Sharing Between State and Federal Agencies

In addition to requiring electronic reporting of NPDES data, the Final Rule requires authorized State programs to share a minimum set of that data with US EPA.

In the Final Rule, EPA states that the difficulty of consistently collecting, reviewing, and responding to paper-based reports and data led to an uneven approach to enforcement. In the Final Rule, EPA says, “The result of this uneven response to noncompliance by regulators means that some facilities in noncompliance will not take immediate action, which gives them a financial edge over other facilities in states where there is a timelier response to noncompliance.”

By requiring electronic data collection and sharing, EPA hopes to improve its ability—and the ability of authorized states and tribal regions—to identify and respond to NPDES compliance issues.

Find out how your state’s NPDES permit rules may be unique.

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Tags: Clean Water Act, EPA, new rules, NPDES, Recordkeeping and Reporting

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