(November 12, 2020) – In a move to provide “additional flexibility” for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) authorized state programs and permittees, EPA published a final rule on November 2 extending the deadline to transition from paper to electronic reporting to December 21, 2025.
The original effective date for electronic reporting was scheduled to begin on December 21, 2020, but the Agency, in March, proposed to extend the deadline to December 21, 2023. EPA received feedback, however, that additional time beyond the 3-year extension was needed not only to “develop and implement the information technology solutions necessary for electronic reporting,” but also to address delays that continue to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NPDES eRule was published on October 22, 2015 and replaced most paper-based NPDES reporting requirements with electronic reporting (e.g., Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs), general permit reports, and others). The 2015 rulemaking divided implementation into two distinct “phases” with Phase 1 implementation underway (DMRs and Sewage Sludge/Biosolids Annual Program Reports), although a number of states continue to face technical challenges and have not fully integrated to electronic reporting. Therefore, EPA is postponing Phase 2 in order for the Agency to “focus additional attention to ensure that it is receiving all Phase 1 data.”
The final rule also includes two alternative Phase 2 compliance deadlines. First, authorized state NPDES programs can request additional time beyond the December 21, 2025 deadline, but EPA noted that it will not extend compliance later than December 21, 2028. Second, EPA on its own initiative can allow for additional time for one or more NPDES programs to implement electronic reporting beyond December 21, 2025 (again not to exceed beyond 2028).
The final rule is effective on January 4, 2021. If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.