EPA announces 32% reduction of NPDES permit backlog

Dec. 15, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reduced its backlog of federally issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits by 32% from 2017 levels, according to a release recently issued by the agency’s Office of Water.

The gains were part of the agency’s Lean Management System, an agency-wide systematic approach to continuous process improvement. Efficiency improvements in the Office of Water are enhancing the agency’s support of state and local partners while better protecting public health and the environment.

Since 2017, EPA’s Office of Water has prioritized timely action on state submittals and has implemented ELMS to improve over 33 processes across the office.

In addition to the NPDES backlog, highlights include:

  • Eliminating the backlog of action on states’ lists of impaired waters—marking the first time in a decade that the backlog was eliminated.
  • Cutting the backlog of action on submitted state priority TMDLs by 99%—from more than 100 in 2017 to just one state priority TMDL.
  • Shrinking the Federal Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II permit backlog by 70% from 2018 levels.

“Ensuring that all Americans have access to safe water requires coordination at the federal, state, and local levels,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Under this Administration, EPA has reduced its backlog of action on state and local submittals to more efficiently serve these partners while more effectively protecting our nation’s vital water resources and supporting the water economy.”

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