NACWA provided detailed comments on an interim revised version of EPA’s NPDES Compliance Inspection Manual, highlighting several areas that need revision or an updating of information. The Association’s December 27 letter noted the recent actions by the Agency to focus more on compliance assistance – especially when working with the clean water community – and encouraged EPA to update the Manual to better reflect this change in the Agency’s enforcement posture.
NACWA also raised concerns about over-reliance on the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database, which has been plagued by data quality issues in the past, and highlighted that the chapter discussing site reviews at wastewater treatment plants would likely be too detailed for most inspectors to fully understand. NACWA also expressed concern with references to the Test of Significant Toxicity (TST) and its use in the whole effluent toxicity (WET) test context. The TST endpoint is not referenced in 40 CFR Part 136 and in general, toxicity endpoints are specified in the permit and are not within the purview of the inspector to determine if they are appropriate. NACWA is working to determine what the Agency’s next steps are in terms of issuing a final, revised guidance.