Clean Water Act Violations – The Numbers are Surprising!

By John Brereton, PhD, Vice-President of NJB Soft

There are roughly 450,000 NPDES permittees, of which 6,700 are major facilities with individual permits, 42,597 smaller facilities with individual permits, and 400,000 permittees operating under general  permits.  Major municipal facilities includes those with design flows of greater than one million gallons per day and facilities with EPA and State approved industrial pretreatment programs.  How many facilities are in non-compliance?  The answer may surprise you.

For example, 55% of major facilities nationwide were in a non-compliance status in the 2009 fiscal year.  Twenty-three percent of major facilities were in “significant non-compliance”.  Facilities are in non-compliance if they have had effluent violations, compliance schedule violations, permit schedule violations, single event violations (for example, violations found during inspections), or reporting violations (such as failure to report) during the fiscal year.  Facilities can be in significant non-compliance because they repeatedly exceed the effluent limits in their permits, they fail to report, or they violate compliance schedules.

The ECHO State Comparative Maps website provide a quick interactive way to review national trends and compare states and territories.  It covers Air and Hazardous Waste topics in addition to NPDES programs.  The maps display individual state data in a number of categories, including facilities in non-compliance, facilities in significant non-compliance, facilities with effluent violations, facilities with single event violations, and facilities reviewed with serious violations.  Select a category, select a year (currently between 2009 and 2013) and click on a state to see a summary of reported statistics.  Here are a few results from 2012:


Percentage   of Major Facilities in


Percentage   of Major Facilities in

Significant   Non-compliance














EPA provides various summaries of regulation and permit violation and enforcement data on the web.  For more information, go to EPA Annual Reports.

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