EPA Finalizes NPDES Updates Rule

NPDES(February 19, 2019) - EPA published a final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Updates Rule on February 12, deferring action, for now, on the more controversial items that the Agency was exploring in early proposals.

The final rule makes mostly “minor, generally clarifying revisions” to the NPDES regulations. NACWA provided comments on the original proposal.

The provision with the most relevance for clean water utilities is a change to how different types of industrial users are reported on a permit application (40 CFR 122.21(j)(6)(i)). The revision is consistent with NACWA’s comments pointing out that the change would align the permit application with the pretreatment regulations. For new municipal discharges, EPA finalized a 24-month window for collecting data after commencement of a discharge - consistent with NACWA’s comments.

The most problematic provision from the May 2016 proposal would have given EPA regional offices the ability to take over administratively-continued permits for discharges they deemed to be environmentally significant. NACWA and other stakeholders objected to this proposal, raising questions over whether EPA had the authority to give the regions this power.

While EPA heeded the call not to include this controversial provision in the final rule, it and other deferred provisions may get picked up in another rulemaking and NACWA will continue to track EPA’s work.

Rule revisions deferred (not finalized) at this time include:

1. Definition of Proposed Permit

2. Definition of Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET)

3. Application Requirements—Latitude and Longitude

4. Reasonable Potential Determinations for New Discharges

5. Dilution Allowances

6. Antidegradation Reference

7. Anti-backsliding

8. Design Flows for POTWs

9.  Objection to Administratively Continued Permits

10. CWA Section 401 Certification Process

11. Fact Sheet Requirements

Please contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Deputy CEO, with any questions.