On Sept. 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule requiring electronic Clean Water Act reporting for municipalities, industries, and other facilities. This includes changes in reporting for municipal separate storm sewer systems.

The rule requires regulated entities as well as state and federal regulators to use existing, available information technology to electronically report National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) data rather than filing written paper reports. Information to be submitted electronically includes Discharge Monitoring Reports, notices of Intent to discharge in compliance with a general permit, and program reports.

EPA estimates that once fully implemented, switching from paper to electronic reporting will result in approximately $22.6 million in savings annually. According to EPA, the rule also will improve public transparency, as it 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 EPA’s website.

Over the next few months, EPA will schedule trainings and outreach webinars 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, including performance status reports for municipal urban stormwater programs and sewer overflows. EPA is providing states with up to 5 years ― rather than the 2 years initially proposed ― to electronically collect, manage, and share this data.