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EPA is implementing a nationwide assessment to improve the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit programs Permitting for Environmental Results (PER).
This is the result of a 16-month effort by the states and EPA to evaluate the management of NPDES programs. The culmination of this effort is documented in the 33 NPDES individual state profiles that are being released today, with the remaining state profiles released in early 2005.
EPA and the states have been working through a detailed process to carefully assess each of their NPDES programs to gauge effectiveness, identify strengths and target areas for improvement.
The profiles are intended as a guide for state and EPA managers as they work to strengthen and ensure the long-term success of each NPDES program.
This effort began in August 2003, and includes three primary components to enhance the NPDES program:
Integrity - Ensuring that NPDES programs have the information and tools they need to issue effective permits
Program Efficiency - Providing tools to the states and sharing information among NPDES programs to streamline the permitting process to effectively apply resources where needed in each watershed
Environmental Results - Identifying environmentally significant permits, prioritizing and reissuing them to improve water quality.
EPA will continue to work with each program to address the needed improvements identified in the profiles and then track their progress. The Agency plans to formalize a management system for the NPDES program to ensure consistent quality and effectiveness across all NPDES programs.
Under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES program regulates discharges to waters of the United States from point sources such as municipal sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities.
States may seek authorization to operate the NPDES program, and, today, 45 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have this authorization. EPA is the permitting authority in unauthorized states, territories and Indian country.