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EPA Proposes New Electronic Data System

The EPA has proposed a new rule to modernize the Clean Water Act reporting system. The goal is to increase efficiency, ease the burden of states, and improve public access to data.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule to modernize the Clean Water Act (CWA) reporting by upgrading to an electronic data system.

This could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of municipalities, industries, and other facilities, but would make facility-specific information, such as inspection and enforcement history; pollutant monitoring results; and other data (required by permits) available to the public through the EPA website.

Once the rule is fully implemented within the 46 states and the Virgin Island Territories, which are authorized to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, it is approximated that $29 million will be saved each year.

"In addition to dramatically cutting costs for states and other regulatory authorities, the e-reporting rule will substantially expand transparency by making it easier for everyone to quickly access critical data on pollution that may be affecting communities," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "The e-reporting rule will also allow states and other regulatory authorities to focus limited resources on the most serious water quality problems, which will lead to increased compliance, improved water quality, and a level playing field for the regulated community."

Facilities that are subject to reporting requirements to states and other regulatory authorities currently do so in paper form, where the information is then manually entered into data systems. Through the e-reporting rule, these facilities would electronically report their data directly to the appropriate regulatory authority, leading to more comprehensive and complete data on pollution sources.

Most facilities subject to reporting requirements will be required to start submitting data electronically one year following the effective date of the final rule. Facilities with limited access to the Internet will have the option of one additional year to come into compliance with the new rule.

The EPA will work closely with states to provide support to develop or enhance state electronic reporting capabilities, and has already scheduled several webinars.

To view the proposed rule in the Federal Register click here. The proposed rule will be available for review and public comment for 90 days following the publication date.

For more information about the EPA, please visit

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November 19, 2019, 10:23 pm PDT

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