Businesses with Clean Water Act permits to discharge wastewater must now file reports electronically instead of filing written paper reports, according to an EPA rule finalize yesterday that modernize Clean Water Act 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 water data required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.
The EPA estimates that, once the rule is fully implemented, the 46 states and the Virgin Islands Territory that are authorized to administer the NPDES program will collectively save approximately $22.6 million each year as a result of switching from paper to electronic reporting. The final rule will make facility-specific information, such as inspection and enforcement history, pollutant monitoring results, and other data required by NPDES permits accessible to the public through the EPA’s website.
The Clean Water Act requires that municipal, industrial or commercial facilities that discharge wastewater directly into waters of the United States obtain a permit. The NPDES program requires that permitted facilities monitor and report data on pollutant discharges and take other actions to ensure discharges do not affect human health or the environment.
Currently, some facilities subject to these reporting requirements submit data in paper form to states and other regulatory authorities, where the information must be manually entered into data systems. Through the e-reporting rule, these facilities will electronically report data directly to the appropriate regulatory authority.
The EPA proposed the e-reporting rule in July 2013 with a public comment period. Over the next few months, the agency 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.
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.
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