EPA Proposes New Electronic Reporting Rule for NPDES Permitted Facilities

By: Amy Millmier Schmidt, Livestock Bioenvironmental Engineer

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a regulation requiring all current paper-based National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) reports from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to be submitted through an electronic system. The proposed rule does not change which animal feeding operations need permits or increase the number of reports filed by permitted facilities, but it does increase accessibility to this information by the public.

This proposed rule is part of a settlement agreement between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Sierra Club designed to provide the agency with greater oversight of NPDES-permitted CAFOs to ensure water quality protection and human health. EPA anticipates that the rule could save significant resources for agencies currently processing paper reporting documents and will provide a nationally-consistent data set about NPDES-permitted operations.

The electronic reporting system would include all discharge monitoring reports (DMRs), notices of intent to discharge in compliance with a general permit, and program reports (inspection reports, violation determinations, and enforcement actions). EPA intends to make the data set publicly available to provide the public with information on facility and government performance that is not currently available.

Following receipt of public comments (through October 31, 2013), the rule will be reviewed and finalized. Release of a final rule can likely be expected in early 2014.