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National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

NPDES Application and Program Updates

EPA Finalizes Specific Provisions of the NPDES Application and Program Updates Rule

As noted in the Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda, the EPA explained that the Agency would be finalizing the 2016 proposed rule in phases. This first final rule addresses a subset of the revisions proposed in 2016, and modernizes the NPDES regulations, promotes submission of complete permit applications, and clarifies regulatory requirements to allow more timely development of NPDES permits that protect human health and the environment. Specifically, this first action includes revisions in the following major categories: regulatory definitions (“new discharger” and two definitions related to the discharge of pesticides as a result of pesticide application); permit applications; and public notice.

This final rule also updates the EPA contact information and web addresses for electronic databases, updates outdated references to best management practices guidance documents, and deletes a provision relating to best practicable waste treatment technology for publicly-owned treatment works that is no longer applicable.

  • Do states that administer their own permits need to update their forms? When do they need to update their forms?
    • Yes, states that issue NPDES permits (all states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, except Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico) will need to use the EPA’s new forms, or update their forms to reflect the latest requirements within one year from promulgation of the final rule. If a state needs to amend or enact a statute to accomplish such changes, then the state will need to use EPA's new forms or update their forms within two years. For NPDES permits issued by the EPA (includes permits issued within the tribes, territories, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico), the required new forms will be available by the effective date of the rule, June 19, 2019.
  • How is the EPA addressing the 14,000 comments received during the request for comment period?
    • The EPA is taking a two-step approach. First, in this Updates Rule, the EPA is addressing comments pertaining to public notice of permitting actions, some clarifying definitions, and application requirements.
    • The EPA is not taking final action at this time on a number of issues that were discussed in the May 18, 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking. The Agency requires additional time to analyze and deliberate on comments received on those issues.

EPA Proposes Rule to Make Targeted Updates to NPDES Regulations

EPA proposed several regulatory revisions and updates to the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. After consulting with EPA regional and state permitting experts and stakeholders from regulated and environmental communities, EPA is proposing several key fixes, including: 

  • Clarifying NPDES definitions and application requirements;
  • Improving permit decision documentation in fact sheets;
  • Allowing permitting authorities to issue public notice of certain permit actions online rather than in a newspaper; and
  • Ensuring issuance of environmentally significant permits in a timelier manner.

This proposal would not reopen the regulations for other specific or comprehensive revisions.

The comment period for the proposed rule ended August 2, 2016.