VPDES e-Reporting Rule

Overview

The Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit Regulation (9 VAC 25-31) was amended to incorporate requirements for electronic reporting. These amendments were necessary to ensure Virginia's VPDES program remained consistent with EPA's national Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule Published in the Federal Register, 80 FR 64063 (October 22, 2015).  The effective date of the amended regulations was July 26, 2017 and compliance with certain aspects of the electronic reporting requirements of the VPDES regulation begins in 2018.  The summary of the EPA e-reporting rule regulation from the Federal Register:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing this final regulation that requires the electronic reporting and sharing of Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program information instead of the current paper based reporting of this information.  This action will save time and resources for permittees, state, tribes, territories, and the U.S. Government while increasing data accuracy, improving compliance, and supporting EPA's goal of providing better protection of the nation's waters.  By modernizing this Clean Water Act reporting program, permittees and regulators will use existing, available information technology to electronically report information and data related to the NPDES permit program.  This regulation will help provide greater clarity on who is and who is not in compliance and enhances transparency by providing a timelier, complete, more accurate, and nationally consistent set of data about the NPDES program.  By providing improved data in a more accessible form, this final rulemaking will improve the ability of EPA and authorized NPDES programs to target the most serious water quality and compliance problems. Furthermore, by reduction the time and resources devoted to outdated data management activities, the rule could allow authorized NPDES programs to shift limited resources to important water quality and public health protection activities.  The transition from paper to electronic reporting will require close coordination and cooperation between EPA and authorized NPDES programs.  This regulation provides important flexibility while still implementing electronic reporting in a timely and effective fashion.

Implementation

The Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule (e-RR) requires the electronic reporting of VPDES program information (i.e. Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMR), registration statements, notices of termination, annual reports, etc.) by permittees to DEQ.  The e-RR, as incorporated in the regulation, allows for some flexibility during the transition from paper based and voluntary electronic reporting to manadatory electronic reporting, that allows the Department and our permittees time to adjust and to meet the federal compliance deadline of January 21, 2020 for full implementation of electronic reporting requirements.  The e-RR provides for temporary and permanent waivers from requirements of electronic reporting, if the permittee petitions DEQ and the request for a waiver is subsequently approved by the Department.  Waivers, with the exception of episodic waivers, must be applied for by the permittee and none are transferable.  The full text of the draft implementation guidance can be found here:  Virginia VPDES Electronic Reporting Rule Implementation Guidance

The mandatory participation initially applies to the following permit programs, with other permit programs to follow as the infrastructure is developed and implemented.

  • Major individual VPDES Permit
  • Non-major individual VPDES Permit
  • Nutrient Watershed General VPDES Permit
  • Industrial Stormwater General VPDES Permit

There are 3 compliance deadlines within the Virginia e-RR regulation that take into account that up until this point participation in the DEQ's electronic Discharge monitoring Report program was voluntary.  The regulation allows for the DEQ to establish compliance deadlines for areas of the regulation where the infrastructure is not yet in place to allow for electronic reporting and data transfer.

  • Individual VPDES Permittees (Major and Non-major) must submit an application to participate in DEQ's e-DMR program 60 days before the January 26, 2018 compliance deadline
  • Nutrient Watershed General Permittees must submit an application to participate in DEQ's e-DMR program 60 days before the March 26, 2018 compliance deadline
  • Industrial Stormwater General Permittees must submit an application to participate in DEQ's e-DMR program 180 days before the July 26, 2018 compliance deadline

More information and the facility package for participation in the e-DMR program can be downloaded from the e-DMR page.  The application will need to be submitted to the appropriate regional office for processing.

Waivers

In accordance with the VPDES e-RR, permittees are now required to electronically submit their VPDES information unless a waiver request is submitted to the Department and subsequently approved.  DEQ cannot consider or approve the petition for a long term waiver without receiving a completed request from the permittee.  The regulation provides for the following types of long term waivers.

  • Temporary waiver - Must not extend beyond five years and may be reapplied for before the end of the five year period, and
  • Permanent waiver - apply to permittees who are members religious communities that choose not to use certain modern technologies (e.g. computers, electricity) as a part of the culture/way of life.

Permittees that submit an incomplete waiver request will be notified and provided an opportunity to resubmit their information.  Once deemed complete, waiver requests will be evaluated and either approved or rejected by the Department within 120 days.  If approved, temporary waivers would be effective the first day of the following month for 60 consecutive months and, if desired, after 60 months the permittee may reapply for a subsequent waiver before the current waiver period expires.  Approved permanent waivers will be effective form the first day of the following month and the permittee is not required to reapply.  No approved waivers, temporary or permanent, are transferable.  Permittees receiving approval from the Department under the waiver provision to opt out of electronic reporting will be required to continue submitting their information in hard copy format to DEQ.  DEQ will be responsible for electronically transferring the permiitees' information to EPA's Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS).

The VPDES e-RR provides for an episodic waiver from electronic reporting.  This waiver is granted by the Department and the following conditions apply:

  • No waiver request from the VPDES permittee, facility or entity is required to obtain an episodic waiver from electronic reporting
  • Episodic waivers are not transferable
  • Episodic waivers cannot last more than 60 days
  • The Department will decide how the Episodic waiver provision will apply to facilities and entities.  There would be provisions to either delay their electronic submissions or to send hard copy (paper) submissions.

Episodic waivers are only available to facilities and entities in the following circumstances:

  • Large scale emergencies involving catastrophic circumstances beyond the control of the facilities, such as forces of nature (e.g. hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes) or other national disasters
  • Prolonged electronic reporting system outages (i.e. longer than 96 hours)

Facility Participation in the e-DMR Program (As of April 5, 2018)

99.8 % of Individual VPDES Permits (Includes Major and Non-Major Permits)

100 % of Nutrient (NT) Watershed General Permits (Facilities that are not required to submit DMRs are not included in the percentage calculation)

50 % (est.) of Storm Water Industrial General Permits (Facilities that are not required to submit DMRs are not included in the percentage calculation)

Further Information

For further information, please contact the appropriate Regional Office.  Or, contact DEQ Central Office - Office of Water Compliance Staff:

  • Troy Nipper - Guidance and Regulation Coordinator at (804) 698-4535
  • Jerome Brooks - Water Compliance Manager at (804 698-4403
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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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