By Philip L. Comella and Craig B. Simonsen

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule to require electronic reporting for documents that are currently filed as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) paper-based reports. NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, 78 FR 46006 (July 30, 2013).

The proposed Clean Water Act regulation would require permittees and regulators to use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the NPDES permit program, in lieu of filing written reports.

The proposal identifies essential NPDES facility-specific information that EPA and authorized programs need to receive electronically from NPDES-permitted facilities, and information that NPDES-authorized programs need to submit electronically to EPA.

EPA has identified the following NPDES data types for which electronic submission will be required from NPDES-regulated facilities:

  • Discharge Monitoring Reports.
  • General permit reports, such as Notice of Intent to be Covered, Notice of Termination, No Exposure Certifications, and Low Erosivity Waivers.
  • Sewer overflow event and bypass event reports, and incidents of noncompliance.
  • Annual or more frequent pretreatment reports.
  • Annual reports from NPDES-regulated biosolids generators and handlers.
  • Annual reports from municipal separate storm sewer system permittees.

The Agency indicates that electronic reporting as implemented in some states has significantly improved data quality and data availability while reducing costs. Also, requiring electronic reporting would be an efficient way to achieve data collection in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It suggests that better nationally-available information will help improve the NPDES program overall.

Comments are due on the proposed rule on or before October 28, 2013.