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EPA Finalizes Rule for Electronic Reporting on Clean Water Discharge Data

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Last Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited final rule requiring electronic reporting of Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program information. As per the unofficial version, the "final rule requires NPDES regulated entities to electronically submit NPDES compliance monitoring reports and notices to their authorized NPDES program or to EPA through the National Environmental Information Exchange Network." Specifically, the information now required to be submitted electronically instead of with paper reports include Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs), Notices of Intent to discharge in compliance with a general permit, general permit waivers, certifications, notices of termination of coverage and program reports. The final rule also notes that "...while the final rule changes the mode of transmission of these data, it does not change the information required from NPDES permitted facilities under existing regulations and practices."

Of concern to NRMCA with the rule’s original proposal was the notion that the electronically submitted information would be displayed online in the public domain for anyone to view. While NRMCA contested that many NPDES documents could contain employee information which should remain private, NRMCA also commented that, "Allowing [potentially] unqualified individuals access to NPDES permits will undoubtedly result in unfounded, false, misleading, arbitrary, and/or costly environmental claims, heightened security risks and allegations with no added environmental benefit." However, the final rule does not make a determination about putting such information in the public domain, but instead will be relying on a separate rulemaking addressing making any and all EPA obtained information available for public viewing. 

Finally, EPA will phase in the rule’s requirements over a five-year period. Each interval will include different requirements, referred to as Phase 1 and Phase 2. 

Click here for more information on the final rule, its specifics and the implementation schedule or contact Kevin Walgenbach at

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