Florida comment

Florida comment

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A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Dee Ann Miller, wrote the following when asked to provide or verify figures regarding the state's enforcement of the Clean Water Act: “Wastewater facility compliance is not static, whereas the EPA data included with your questions is. The work done to evaluate and correct permit violations, particularly effluent violations, is largely hidden. The static data also does not reflect the number of opportunities for non-compliance—the absolute number of violations, even when identified correctly, means little unless compared to the number of “chances” to violate. In addition, single effluent violations barely over a contaminant limit cannot be considered in the same light as repeated significant violations by the same entity, but the EPA data does not illuminate this critical issue. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) promotes compliance by identifying problems, through both data evaluations and onsite inspections, and resolving them as quickly as possible. Many violations can be addressed with the cooperation of the responsible party and without the need for formal enforcement. Others require formal action but the focus remains on quick resolution and a return to compliance. Resolving violations—whether through public education, technical assistance, notices and warnings, or formal enforcement—must reflect their seriousness and the responsive and ...

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A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Dee Ann Miller, wrote the following when asked to provide or verify figures regarding the state's enforcement of the Clean Water Act:“Wastewater facility compliance is not static, whereas the EPA data included with your questions is.The work done to evaluate and correct permit violations, particularly effluent violations, is largely hidden.The static data also does not reflect the number of opportunities for non-compliancethe absolute number of violations, even when identified correctly, means little unless compared to the number of “chances” to violate.In addition, single effluent violations barely over a contaminant limit cannot be considered in the same light as repeated significant violations by the same entity, but the EPA data does not illuminate this critical issue.The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) promotes compliance by identifying problems, through both data evaluations and onsite inspections, and resolving them as quickly as possible.Many violations can be addressed with the cooperation of the responsible party and without the need for formal enforcement. Others require formal action but the focus remains on quick resolution and a return to compliance.Resolving violationswhether through public education, technical assistance, notices and warnings, or formal enforcementmust reflect their seriousness and the responsive and responsible behavior of the violator.Such considerations are generally lost in mere numbers.It is difficult for any facility to remain in complete compliance and not even have a non-reporting issue during any three year period.This is especially true given the large number of sampling points and parameters contained in Florida permits. Anyone facility may be evaluating thousands of sampled parameters or measurements.Also, there are times that facilities are listed as non-compliance as a result of typographical error.Even when these errors are corrected, the facility may still appear to have been in non-compliance at one time.As you review this data from Florida and other states across the nation, we would ask that you keep a few key points and some background information in mind. First,the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) self-monitoring requirement is a key aspect of the NPDES program.Facilities obtain effluent samples of its discharge at specified times which are analyzed for specific constituents and characteristics.This data is collected and summarized by the facility onto a Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) and submitted on a regular basis (usually monthly) to the regulatory agency.DMR data is then
entered into EPAs Permit Compliance System (PCS), which checks the data for permit limit exceedances.Missing data and delinquent reports are also flagged as non-compliance events by the script. Exceedances are included as part of the Category I non-compliance criteria while missing data or reports are part of Category II.By design, the DMR is a summary report that tends to overstate the degree of non-compliance. Forexample, some facilities perform daily analysis of their effluent. Ifone sample should exceed the permit limit, then the facility will show as being in non-compliance for the entire month when in fact it may have been non-compliant for only one day out of thirty.Also, as you compare data from other States, please recognize that Florida has very stringent monitoring standards and requires an extensive list of parameters to be monitored.During a 2006 review we found that Florida NPDES permits, on average, contain 21 different limited parameters, while the average for other States in EPA Region IV was 11 parameters.This additional monitoring, which provides greater protection to the environment also provides greater opportunity for a facility to be in non-compliance.This is a factor that is rarely taken into consideration when comparisons of data, like non-compliance rates, are made between states.”