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Reducing Significant Noncompliance with Clean Water Act NPDES


EPA Compliance Advisory

Federal Facility Compliance under National Compliance Initiative
to Reduce Significant Noncompliance with Clean Water Act NPDES Permits

Updated 1/28/2021


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 into 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, but not limited to, compliance with the NPDES permits.

A federal facility permitted under the NPDES program by EPA or an authorized state is required by Section 313 of the CWA to comply with the effluent limits, reporting requirements, and other responsibilities specified in its permit. Noncompliance with NPDES permits may subject federal facilities to enforcement by EPA or the authorized state.

If your department or agency owns or operates a facility with an EPA or state NPDES permit your facility has an obligation to comply with the effluent limits, reporting requirements, and other requirements in the permit. Noncompliance may subject the NPDES permittee to enforcement.

How Does This Advisory Affect Federal Facilities?

This NCI is intended to ensure that all NPDES permittees--including federal facilities--are complying with their permits. NPDES permittees, regardless of facility size or type, will see an increase by EPA and its state partners in identifying and addressing SNC violations at federal facilities using enforcement and other compliance tools. EPA is making federal facilities aware of this initiative so they can take steps to address any significant noncompliance promptly.

EPA has engaged directly with the federal community on this NCI. When significant noncompliance is identified at specific federal facilities, EPA's practice is to initiate a conversation with the respective federal department or agency headquarters offices to better understand the noncompliance from a national perspective and to help these facilities return to compliance. EPA has observed a very positive compliance response from federal agencies from this approach and plans to continue this outreach into the future.

Furthermore, EPA's dialogues with federal agencies have contributed to improved data quality and completeness across state and federal regulatory databases. Specifically, federal facilities have identified and reported data errors to EPA and the states, resulting in correction of data contained within these data systems. This is vital to identify significant noncompliance accurately, and federal facilities are playing an important leadership role in advancing the goals of this NCI by helping to identify and provide more accurate and complete data.

How Do I Check the Status of NPDES Permitted Facilities?

NPDES permittees are encouraged to assess their compliance status in one or both of the following ways:

  • Ensure your discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) are accurate, complete, and timely submitted and received.
  • Use EPA's Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool to access your detailed facility report. EPA recommends that federal facilities review their compliance statuses in EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database on a regular basis.
  • Use ECHO's Early Warning Dashboard (EWD) tool to monitor real-time facility statuses to identify overdue DMRs and underlying Technical Review Criteria (TRC) violations.
If your facility is identified in ECHO as being in significant noncompliance with its NPDES permit, EPA recommends that you take prompt corrective actions to address this noncompliance. If you believe that the significant noncompliance designation is the result of a data error, EPA recommends the permittee work with its permitting authority (either an authorized state or EPA) to resolve the issue.

Helpful Resources:

Compliance Advisory for Federal Facilities to Reduce SNC with NPDES Permits

FedCenter Resources:

To check your permit or contact your NPDES permitting authority (state or EPA):

If you have any questions please reach out to Nikki Freyre (Freyre.Dominique@epa.gov, 202-564-0433) or Matthew Carr (Carr.Matt@epa.gov, 202-564-7644), at the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office (FFEO).

Last Updated: January 28, 2021