Program Areas
Quick Reference
Reducing Significant Noncompliance with Clean Water Act NPDES


EPA Compliance Bulletin

EPA National Compliance Initiative
Reducing Significant Noncompliance with Clean Water Act NPDES Permits


One of EPA's National Compliance Initiatives focuses on reducing the rate of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) significant noncompliance at private and federally-owned facilities. The NPDES program, created in 1972 by the Clean Water Act (CWA), helps protect human health and the environment by regulating water pollution from point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States. Section 313 of the CWA (33 U.S.C. § 1323) requires federal agencies to comply with federal, state, interstate, and local requirements to control and abate water pollution, including by seeking and acquiring NPDES permits. A federal facility permitted under the NPDES program is required to comply with the effluent limits, reporting requirements, and other responsibilities specified in its permit.

The overarching goal of the National Compliance Initiatives is to increase compliance using EPA's full range of compliance assurance tools. The National Compliance Initiatives, which complement EPA's core enforcement programs, advance EPA's strategic plan objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with our nation's environmental laws, while enhancing shared accountability between the EPA and states and tribes with authorized environmental programs. The goal of the NPDES National Compliance Initiative (Initiative) is to reduce by half the rate of significant noncompliance across the country, while assuring that the worst violations are timely and appropriately addressed. EPA is making federal facilities aware of this Initiative so they can take steps to address any significant noncompliance.

EPA Efforts to Reduce NPDES Noncompliance at Federal Facilities

EPA is working closely with authorized states to address significant noncompliance at NPDES-permitted facilities across the country, using the full range of compliance assurance tools, including compliance assistance, compliance monitoring, enforcement or other collaborative efforts.

In addition to EPA's and the states' broader efforts to improve NPDES noncompliance in the regulated community, EPA has engaged directly with the federal family on this Initiative. For instance, when significant noncompliance has been identified at specific federal facilities, EPA has contacted federal agency headquarters offices to begin dialogues on how best facilities can address their noncompliance issues. EPA has seen positive results from this approach and plans to continue this outreach and dialogue in the future.

Furthermore, EPA's dialogue with federal agencies have contributed to improved data quality and completeness across state and federal regulatory databases, which is an important part of this Initiative. Specifically, federal agencies have identified and reported data errors to EPA and the states, resulting in correction of data contained within these systems. Federal agencies are playing an important part in advancing the goals of this Initiative by helping to identify and provide more accurate and complete data. If a federal facility is identified as being in significant noncompliance with its permit and the facility believes this designation is erroneous, EPA recommends the facility work with its permitting authority (either an authorized state or EPA in direct implementation states) to resolve the issue.

EPA and states are also developing webinars and compliance bulletins that will cover a range of diverse topics that may be useful to the federal facility community. Look for future postings on EPA's website or on FedCenter. If there are topics associated with this Initiative that your agency would like to see covered in a webinar or compliance bulletin please contact Nikki Freyre (Freyre.dominique@epa.gov).

* EPA will discuss the NPDES Initiative and current progress at the 2019 Federal Environmental Symposium, to be held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on October 30 and 31, 2019.

Helpful Links:

- FedCenter Resources
       Compliance Assistance - NPDES SNC
       Facility Regulatory Tour
- Learn more about the Clean Water Act.
- Learn more about the NCI program.
- Visit the EPA's website on the NPDES SNC National Compliance Initiative to obtain additional information.


Last Updated: October 22, 2019