Paper is wasteful. Paper is costly. Paper is slow.
At the opening of the 21st century the EPA recognized it was not in fact, working in the 21st century. All NPDES reporting and permitting were completed on paper via mail correspondence. This resulted in extremely tedious and time – consuming data entry or confirmation. The EPA recognized a forthcoming issue in both its ability to operate efficiently and its ability to enforce regulatory requirements.
So, the EPA made a choice. Go electronic.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Report Rule (e-reporting) became effective on December 21, 2015. The e-reporting rule is geared towards increasing data accuracy and transparency, reducing time and cost all around and allowing states, regulators and operators to more effectively identify and correct non – compliance. The CFR summary lays it out clearly, “This action will save time and resources for permittees, states, tribes, territories, and the U.S. Government while increasing data accuracy, improving compliance, and supporting EPA's goal of providing better protection of the nation's waters.”
In the years since the rule was finalized, the EPA has successfully revamped and modernized its permitting and reporting systems. Gradually, all permits, program and data aggregation methods have transitioned to the EPA’s electronic reporting platforms. Although they still bear the signs of government – created platforms with occasionally chunky UI/UX, they are online.
With a heavy initial investment cost estimated at $77.9 million, the EPA anticipates it will see a massive cost savings, $406 million over a 10 – year period. The savings is absolutely meaningful to those paying the bills. But ultimately, the EPA is meeting its initial goals – increase transparency, provide timelier and more complete data, facilitate permittee compliance, reduce time spent managing paper and data to enable shifting key resources to important water quality and public health activities.
The EPA recognized the benefits to moving to an electronic platform and establishing technology as a key criterion to success. But, state, local and private entities are struggling to pick up the other end of the rope.
Adopting new technologies may be a young person’s game. Young professionals who seemingly have a memory card stitched into their palms eagerly adopt new apps and programs. Apps provide instantaneous gratification and information and frequently make lives easier. But senior and ‘senior’ management who still prefer the tangible comfort of paper checklists take heavy convincing to take the plunge. Public agencies are restricted by annual budget cuts and prescriptive procedures set by the auditing department. Everyone has a reason to say ‘No’ to investing in technological advancements, but they’re short-sighted at best.
Reasons to Upgrade
Beyond simply making your life easier and collaboration a reality, adopting new stormwater management technologies has significant advantages:
1. COST SAVINGS
Technology eliminates or minimizes overhead and increases productivity. In stormwater compliance, that may look like performing one more inspection per day due to less time physically completing and disseminating a report. For contractors, that may look like fewer unexpected maintenance activities due to wider and more comprehensive compliance oversight.
2. MORE TIME
Technology frees project managers and administrators to perform billable activities by decreasing their time performing data entry and non – billable tasks. Electronic platforms remove collating forms and photographs, scanning reports, emailing those forms and looking for them three months later after they’ve been misplaced.
By reducing the time devoted to outdated paper – based compliance procedures, companies and agencies can shift resources to other important activities.
Electronic reporting and compliance platforms neatly organize data points into a holistic view. Thousands of data points which empower Operators and agencies to confidently say they are compliant with stormwater regulation. As a single point of record, Permittees can leverage compliance management platforms to see where they are missing information, non – compliant, or concretely prove to any regulator they are meeting permit requirements.
The initial investment in new technology may sting. But the long – term savings ultimately match what the EPA is experiencing – big time fiscal savings, increases in productivity, heightened transparency and compliance. Not to mention, happier employees.
Comply26 meets the EPA’s initiative in all areas and helps companies and public agencies experience the benefits of technological adoption. No paper cuts. No misplaced reporting. Just easy, cloud – based tools to cut costs, increase productivity and empower users to comply with their respective regulating permits.
Reach out to us today for more information.