How would the updated proposed rule affect biosolids management? EPA proposes only to change the method by which information is provided to the agency - not the content. (The original proposal suggested additional biosolids data might be collected; this idea seems to have been abandoned for now.) NPDES reports would have to be submitted electronically, rather than on paper. The rule would go into effect one year after it is promulgated, requiring certain basic NPDES information to be submitted then. After another year, all NPDES information would have to be submitted electronically. The original 2013 discussions and the recent supplemental notice go into great detail about all the potential technical and programmatic concerns related to the switch to electronic reporting.
EPA repeatedly emphasizes that NPDES permit holders will not be required to report new information or data. The Agency clarifies that any concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that hold NPDES permits will fall under the rule, but not CAFOs that don't have NPDES permits.
For biosolids management, the rule means that annual biosolids reports, due February 19th each year, would have to be submitted electronically to EPA. For those states where DMR reports are submitted to the state, they would have to be submitted in electronic form. However, EPA is considering whether DMR reports might be used to collect biosolids annual report information, to combine and simplify reporting. However, the Agency notes that DMR reporting does not always adequately cover certain biosolids reporting parameters, such as pathogen reduction, VAR, loading rates, etc.
EPA is requesting further comment regarding the following biosolids-related issues:
- "the practicality of using the DMR form to collect data for the Biosolids Annual Report;
- "allowing POTWs to use state eDMR systems to submit their Biosolids Annual Report when the state is not authorized for the biosolids program; and
- "changing the deadline for submission of these Biosolids Annual Reports from Phase 2 (two years after the effective date of the final rule) to Phase 1 (one year after the effective date of the final rule)." EPA says the EPA Region 7 "National Biosolids Center for Excellence" is prepared to receive electronic reports sooner and would like to start the process of electronic biosolids reporting as soon as possible.
And one more item of note in the recent EPA discussion: "Some NPDES-regulated entities (e.g., biosolids generators with no discharge, categorical industrial users) may not have an NPDES permit. These entities are controlled through direct application of EPA regulation or may be controlled through state regulation or other actions."
January 20, 2015, 3:00 pm Eastern: A webinar on the updated proposed rule