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The Compliance Branch in OWQ conducts inspections of facilities with NPDES permits, provides operator assistance and training, administers the wastewater operator certification/continuing education program, enters compliance data into the federal ICIS database, reviews and evaluates compliance data, conducts informal enforcement actions through the issuance of violation letters, refers the most serious violations for formal enforcement, and assists in the enforcement process. Included in these activities are the Sewer Ban and Early Warning program. In addition, the Compliance Branch is responsible for assuring laboratory proficiency. Compliance Branch staff also oversees and audits municipal pretreatment programs in the 47 municipalities with U.S. EPA delegated pretreatment programs. Unpermitted dischargers as well as permittees found to be in violation of their permit conditions may be referred to OWQ’s enforcement section for corrective actions. Information on reported bypass and overflow events is collected and recorded, so that sewer bypass/overflow monthly reports can be generated, and appropriate agency responses determined.
The Compliance Branch is actively promoting the NetDMR program as a means to get NPDES holders to submit their compliance data electronically.
As part of IDEM’s effort to be more transparent with government documents and to provide good customer service, Compliance Branch staff scan and index documents into the IDEM Virtual File Cabinet.
The Compliance Branch works closely with the Permits Branch and enforcement staff to ensure that dischargers remain in compliance with their permit requirements. Compliance Branch inspectors, including those assigned to the regional offices, conduct on-site wastewater treatment plant inspections throughout the state.
NetDMR is a free web-based tool that allows National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permittees to electronically sign and submit their discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) to IDEM via a secure internet connection. This web-based service will replace the manual process of submitting DMRs in paper form.
Bypasses and overflows, including sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and basement backups are reported to IDEM by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. These events are recorded in the ICIS database. Anyone owning or responsible for sewers that overflow is required to report these events to IDEM. All such events are violations of state and federal rules. Excessive numbers of these events can result in an enforcement action with a schedule requiring remedial action to minimize future events.
NPDES compliance reports submitted to IDEM, such as DMRs and MROs are evaluated by Compliance Branch staff for completeness and compliance with NPDES requirements. This information, along with information gathered during compliance inspections may be used to initiate action by IDEM aimed at returning a facility to compliance. This most commonly takes the form of a violation letter, but in more serious situations may result in a referral for formal enforcement.
The Compliance Branch administers the Wastewater Operator Certification and Continuing Education program. Branch staff coordinate the wastewater operator certification program including preparation, administration and follow-up of certification exams, review of certification applications, and meeting with operators and their organizations. This program assures wastewater treatment plant operators continue to maintain and improve their knowledge of wastewater treatment systems and that wastewater treatment plants are under the supervision of operators with the appropriate level of experience and the knowledge to properly operate the systems for which they are responsible and to produce effluent in compliance with all applicable federal and state rules.