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New EPA Rule Will Require Electronic Reporting for the CWA

Although the new rule applies to wastewater and not drinking water facilities, it shows the direction EPA is headed with electronic reporting.  In the drinking water arena, projects like the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal are in line with EPA’s overall goals.   The information below from EPA’s press release provides more details and includes links for additional information.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule to modernize Clean Water Act (CWA) reporting for municipalities, industries, and other facilities. The final rule will require regulated entities and state and federal regulators to use existing, available information technology to electronically report data required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program instead of filing written paper reports.

EPA will continue collaborating with states as they enhance their electronic reporting capabilities to support the rule’s implementation. Over the next few months, EPA will schedule trainings and outreach webinar sessions for states and regulated entities to provide an overview of the final rule, and the next steps for implementing electronic reporting.

In response to state feedback, the final rule provides authorized NPDES programs with more flexibility for implementation, providing more time for the transition from paper to electronic reporting and more flexibility in how they can grant electronic reporting waivers to facilities. Most facilities subject to effluent monitoring reporting requirements will be required to start submitting data electronically one year following the effective date of the final rule. A second phase will incorporate electronic reporting for other Clean Water Act reports such as performance status reports for municipal urban stormwater programs, controls on industrial discharges to local sewage treatment plants, and sewer overflows. Also in response to comments and suggestions from states, EPA is providing states with more time to electronically collect, manage, and share this data – up to five years instead of two years as initially proposed.

This rulemaking is part of EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy, as well as the E-Enterprise for the Environment strategy with states and tribes, to take advantage of new tools and innovative approaches to increase compliance and reduce pollution. The shift toward electronic reporting in the NPDES program and others will help make environmental reporting more accurate, complete, and efficient. It will also help EPA and co-regulators better manage information, and improve effectiveness and transparency.

EPA expects to publish the final rule in the Federal Register in October, 2015. The final rule will be effective 60 days following this publication.

View the final rule at:
http://www2.epa.gov/compliance/final-national-pollutant-discharge-elimination-system-npdes-electronic-reporting-rule

More information on Next Generation Compliance:
http://www2.epa.gov/compliance/next-generation-compliance.