Surface Water Compliance Initiatives Cooperative Agreement Between Ohio and U.S. EPA

August 27, 2019

USEPA Strategic Plan
National Compliance Initiative (NCI)

Surface Water Compliance

The USEPA has adopted a strategic plan for increasing surface water compliance with environmental regulations by focusing on areas with significant noncompliance issues.  USEPA is working with the Ohio EPA to incorporate a range of compliance assurance tools.  As part of this initiative, states will share in the determination of significant noncompliance, development of a streamlined process for issuance of a notice of violation and Resolution of Violation, and creation of working industry partnerships designed to avoid noncompliance.

NPDES Program

In 2018, USEPA selected the Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) as the first program targeted to increase compliance and reduce the number of SNC permittees.  Under this initiative USEPA redefined significant noncompliance (SNC) to include failure to submit a discharge monthly monitoring report (DMR), failure to meet a permit compliance schedule milestone, violation of formal enforcement actions, failure to renew an NPDES permit on time, and significant permit effluent violations.

Significant permit effluent violations are determined by:

  • Effluent Exceedances
    • 40% exceedance for conventional pollutants (BOD, TSS, oil and grease)
    • 20% exceedances for toxic pollutants (metals, cyanide, chlorine)
  • Chronic Violations
    • Any monthly effluent exceedance (any pollutant) for 4 or more months in a 6-month period.  

Frequent areas of SNC include non-submittals of DMRs (55%), effluent exceedances (25%), and violation of compliance schedules (20%).

Added enforcement also includes common stormwater violations such as no stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP); a SWPPP that is not updated, revised, or where training has not been provided; failure to implement the Best Management Practices (BMPs) within the SWPPP; and failure to conduct required sampling and/or inspections.

Non-Compliance with Requirements

In the event a facility does not comply with these NPDES permit and/or SWPPP requirements, a Notice of Violation (NOV) will be issued by the local district Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water (DSW) inspector identifying the legal requirements and areas of noncompliance. The NOV will require the owner/operator of the facility to respond to the NOV within 30 days from the date of issuance.  The owner/operator is strongly encouraged to work closely with the district DSW inspector to resolve those state violations. If the facility fails to respond to the NOV and/or implement corrective measures, the matter will be referred to the Ohio EPA for enforcement as a SNC.  However, if the issues of noncompliance are resolved, the Ohio EPA will issue the facility a Resolution of Violation letter acknowledging that the compliance issues have been properly resolved and the facility returned to compliance.

EnviroScience can aid facilities with these compliance matters.  It is important that you read and understand the terms and conditions of your NPDES permit to identify tasks, reporting requirements, trigger events, recordkeeping, and training requirements. Understand your permit’s required compliance deadlines for sampling, reporting, inspections, training, and plan development and implementation.

If you determine an incident of noncompliance (unauthorized spill or release, violation of effluent limit, failure to timely sample and remit DMR) has occurred or observed one during an inspection, determine the appropriate actions to promptly undertake to correct the issue, document the corrective measures, and report the matter, as may be required under the permit.  Consistently review your SWPPP for any changes and/or conditions at your facility, including the effectiveness of BMPs and other stormwater management programs.

Routinely train employees on the environmental regulations, in addition to those requirements set forth under the NPDES and SWPPP.  Properly document employee training and information provided during the training.

Navigational Tools for Compliance

The following are a couple of example templates your facility can use as a navigation tool for surface water compliance. Learn more about understanding your NPDES permit here.

Surface Water Compliance