In the age of the Internet, it’s no surprise that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mapped out a nationwide plan to move to electronic reporting for NPDES facilities. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program permits wastewater discharges as required under the Clean Water Act. In Kentucky, the Division of Water (DOW) is responsible for administering the KPDES program. An essential part of any KPDES permit is the Discharge Monitoring Report or DMR. DMRs are a self-reporting tool that helps determine compliance with permit conditions and assess the quality of the wastewater discharge. This DMR data is housed in the EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) and available to the public via the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO).
With the EPA’s announcement that regulations would be developed requiring transition to an electronic reporting system for DMRs in early 2014, Kentucky was quick to take action. Now fully deployed for NetDMR, the national EPA tool for electronic reporting, Kentucky is actively notifying and educating facilities on the use of the new system. DOW anticipates having 100 percent of KPDES facilities transitioned by mid-2014. With more than 10,000 facilities currently permitted, this is no small task for DOW. A combination of online tools, classroom training and working through the trade associations are being used to assist systems with the transition to the new electronic system.
Why transition to an electronic system? NetDMR will allow for a reduction in paperwork, improve data quality, allow for more timely data processing and increase data accessibility. All in all, it allows for DOW and permitted facilities to become more efficient at DMR submittals and reviews. For many facilities, it may actually decrease the probability of being cited for minor data errors seen on traditional paper DMRs.
In the next year, current KPDES facilities can expect to see changes in permit language relating to NetDMR submission in their KPDES permits. These changes will be made on any new or renewed individual permits and for any newly issued general permits. For all other facilities, DOW will be sending out notification letters specifying the date for mandatory transition to NetDMR.
The Division of Compliance Assistance (DCA) has been working with DOW on outreach and education relating to NetDMR. DCA advises facilities not to wait until the last minute to transition to NetDMR. Facilities should go ahead and start talking to management and other entities, such as laboratories, about NetDMR and coordinating efforts. For those who want to practice with NetDMR, DOW has a test site that gives facilities a secure environment l to learn and practice submitting DMR data electronically before officially submitting via NetDMR.
For more information on NetDMR, please visit http://water.ky.gov/permitting/Pages/netDMRInformation.aspx or contact DCA at firstname.lastname@example.org.