WASHINGTON — Sept. 24, 2015 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a rule that requires municipalities, industries and other facilities to electronically report data instead of filing written reports, according to a press release.

Once the rule is fully implemented, regulated entities and state and federal regulators will use existing information technology to comply with the rule and submit data required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, noted the release.

Forty-six states and the Virgin Islands Territory are authorized to administer the NPDES program, stated the release. The EPA estimates these areas will save about $22.6 million each year when they switch to electronic reporting.

The rule will also allow the public to view information such as inspection and enforcement history, pollutant monitoring results, and other NDPES permit data through the EPA’s website, reported the release.

“Electronic reporting will give the public full transparency into water pollution sources, save millions of dollars, and lead to better water quality in American communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in the release. “This rule will significantly reduce the burden and costs of paperwork, freeing up limited resources for states and other regulatory authorities to focus on the most serious water quality problems. After more than two years of working closely with states and a range of stakeholders, today we take a critical step to bring clean water protection into the modern age.”

Through the Clean Water Act, facilities that discharge wastewater directly into bodies of water in the U.S. must obtain a permit, shared the release. The mandate applies to municipal, industrial or commercial facilities.

Electronic reporting was proposed by the EPA in July 2013, noted the release. The agency has held more than 70 meetings to identify any problems with the reporting provisions. The EPA will hold trainings and webinars to train states and regulated entities on the final rule and implementation of electronic reporting.

You can find the entire release here.