Proposed pollutant electronic reporting rule will affect producers
BROOKINGS, S.D. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comments on a proposed electronic reporting rule. This proposed rule relates to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.
The NPDES permit program impacts numerous municipalities and industries, including concentrated animal feeding operations, explained Erin Cortus, SDSU Extension Environmental Quality Engineer.
“The intended results are to save paper and resources, streamline permit renewals, increase the transparency of information between the EPA, states and public, and ultimately, to protect human health and the environment,” Cortus said. “However, producers should use this comment period to ask any questions or raise any concerns they have on the requirements and implementation of this rule.”
In 1993, the EPA delegated the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR) to implement the NPDES program for all South Dakota operations needing permits including concentrated animal feeding operations.
As part of implementing this program South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources developed and issued the “General Permit” for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
“The General Permit is a roadmap for the state of South Dakota and CAFOs for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of manure storage and land application fields to prevent water pollution,” she said.
Currently, any CAFO that has a General Permit submits a written annual report to the SD DENR. Cortus explained that the SD DENR retains all permit applications and annual reports, but only submits specific information like the name of the facility, county, maximum animal numbers, animal type, date permitted and a list of final enforcement actions to EPA periodically. Submitting only certain information to EPA is due to producer concerns about biosecurity.
So how will this proposed rule affect South Dakota producers?
Cortus said starting two years from the effective date of the final rule, EPA’s proposed rule would require permitted operations to electronically submit the data in the Notice of Intent included with their permit application when they apply for permit coverage, and annually submit the data in annual reports electronically to EPA.
The Notice of Intent can be found in Appendix B of SD DENR’s General Permit at http://1.usa.gov/17t7lwk, and the annual reporting requirements can be found on section 1.4.7. on page 23 of the General Permit.
“Additional EPA annual reporting requirements not yet incorporated in the general permit would also need to be submitted electronically,” she said.
She said the proposed rule allows for annual opt-outs of the electronic reporting with a demonstration of poor broadband internet speed. EPA is also soliciting comments on whether they should grant waivers to entities with religious objections to using modern innovations such as electricity and computers.
In the cases where waivers are granted, Cortus said SD DENR or EPA would be responsible for submitting the data received on paper electronically. She added that the proposed rule would also require the SD DENR to electronically submit basic facility information, permit data, inspection data, violation determinations, and enforcement data to EPA. All producer submitted and SD DENR submitted information would be public record accessible online.
The closing date for submitting comments is October 28, 2013.
“Bottom line – producers have an opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions regarding this proposal, before it becomes a final rule,” Cortus said. “I encourage South Dakota producers to take part.”