EPA Proposes Rule to Increase Efficiency of Clean Water Act Reporting

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule this past Wednesday regarding Clean Water Act reporting.  The rule would update the reporting for municipalities and industries to an electronic data reporting system.  Not only will the actual reporting be done electronically, but facility specific information including inspection and enforcement history, pollutant monitoring results, and other permit required date will be available to the public through the EPA’s website.

As of now, facilities required to submit reports by the Clean Water Act must do so in paper forms to both the states and other regulatory agencies.  The new rule will require these facilities to report their data electronically.  According to the EPA’s press release, the agency hopes that “the e-reporting rule will lead to more comprehensive and complete data on pollution sources, quicker availability of the data for use, and increased accessibility and transparency of the data to the public”.

The EPA also estimates a cost savings of $29 million each year once the rule is fully implemented.  This is a total savings estimate for the 46 states and the Virgin Island Territory that are authorized to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
“In addition to dramatically cutting costs for states and other regulatory authorities, the e-reporting rule will substantially expand transparency by making it easier for everyone to quickly access critical data on pollution that may be affecting communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The e-reporting rule will also allow states and other regulatory authorities to focus limited resources on the most serious water quality problems, which will lead to increased compliance, improved water quality, and a level playing field for the regulated community.”

Under the Clean Water Act, any municipal, industrial or commercial facility that discharges wastewater directly into waterways of the United States must obtain a permit.  The NPDES program often requires these facilities to monitor and report specific data concerning their discharges.  If the rule is implemented, it is expected that these facilities will be required to start e-reporting within one year of the effective date of the final rule.

To view and/or comment on the proposed rule, click here.

A fact sheet with more detailed information on the rule can be found here.

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3 Responses to EPA Proposes Rule to Increase Efficiency of Clean Water Act Reporting

  1. Andrea Oyewole, PhD says:

    I am delighted about the changes. This will give the public more access to information and increase confidence in the agency as their are better able to see the agency at its best.

  2. W.H. Backous, P.E. says:

    Very good to hear EPA is finally moving on this. In several cases in many states, this is already happening. In most cases, municipalities and industries find this interaction with USEPA more cost effective, and easier to accomplish, and an electronic record is immediately captured. The other information noted within the article is certainly available to the public, this mechanism will be more timely and more effective for the public. In many cases, it will take the pressure off records searches, and the investment by agencies that need to respond to public information requests.

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