Wastewater compliance is about the many ways IDEM provides information, training, and materials to help permittees stay in compliance with the rules and limits in their permits. IDEM staff work closely with owners and operators of NPDES-permitted facilities to help them understand their regulatory responsibilities and achieve compliance. The staff monitor and inspect NPDES-permitted facilities to assure compliance with permit conditions and the requirements of the Clean Water Act. They assist operators with proper maintenance and operation techniques and provide operator training through the Wastewater Operator Certification and Continuing Education program. The inspectors enter compliance data into the federal Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) database that can be made available upon request, review and evaluate compliance data, conduct informal enforcement actions through the issuance of noncompliance letters, and refer the most serious violations for formal enforcement.
Wastewater Inspection Section:
The Wastewater Inspection Section includes staff that conduct inspections and investigations based on county assignments of wastewater facilities and water pollution related complaints. The Wastewater Inspection Section also implements the Sewer Ban and Early Warning program (327 IAC 4-1-3) that is intended to alert the owners and operators of wastewater treatment systems to potential problems, initiate a process for evaluation of existing conditions, plan for future solutions, and arrange for funding in case capital improvements are required. In addition, the Section is responsible for assuring laboratory proficiency.
Wastewater Data Compliance Evaluation Section:
NPDES compliance reports submitted to IDEM, such as Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) and Monthly Reports of Operation (MROs), are evaluated by the Wastewater Data Compliance Evaluation Section 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 noncompliance letter, but in more serious situations may result in a referral for formal enforcement. The Wastewater Data Compliance Evaluation Section promotes the NetDMR program as a means to get NPDES holders to submit their compliance data electronically. NetDMR is a free web-based tool that allows NPDES permittees to electronically sign and submit their discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) to IDEM via a secure internet connection. This web-based service has replaced the manual process of submitting DMRs in paper form. Along with NetDMR for data input and to respond to IDEM’s effort to be more transparent with government documents and to provide good customer service, compliance staff scan and index documents into the IDEM Virtual File Cabinet for public access. The Wastewater Data Compliance Evaluation Section also oversees and audits industrial pretreatment programs of U.S. EPA delegated cities and towns in Indiana (currently 47 communities).
Wastewater Operator Certification and Continuing Education:
The Branch also administers the Wastewater Operator Certification and Continuing Education program. Staff coordinate this 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.
Compliance staff administer the municipal pretreatment program where communities regulate the industrial dischargers, while the permits staff issue industrial waste pretreatment permits for those industries who discharge to sewer systems not covered by municipal pretreatment programs.
Sewer Bypass/Overflow Incident Report:
Bypasses and overflows, including sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), wastewater treatment plant bypasses, dry weather CSOs, and basement backups are reported to IDEM on state form 48373 by email. These events are recorded in the TEMPO regulatory management database and in IDEM’s Virtual File Cabinet. 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.
OWQ Enforcement Section:
The OWQ Enforcement Section staff implements formal enforcement actions for all the OWQ program areas. This includes formal enforcement cases involving NPDES permitted facilities, unpermitted discharges, storm water and wetland actions, and drinking water program areas. The OWQ Enforcement Section works closely with each OWQ Program area and with IDEM’s Office of Legal Counsel in the formulation of formal enforcement actions. Please refer to IDEM’s Office of Legal Counsel’s Enforcement page for more details.