Compliance and Enforcement
Compliance and Enforcement Water Protection Program
Missouri’s natural resources provide for our health, well being and enjoyment. Making sure Missouri's citizens, communities and enterprises comply with the legally required environmental protection measures is the least each of us can do to help sustain ourselves and our neighbors. The environment we live in today and leave to our children should be the best we can make it.
Department staff are expected to work cooperatively with anyone who has an environmental problem or concern, throughout the process of solving it. The department is always available to offer services up front to prevent problems. Where problems occur, the department will work with the parties involved to resolve the problems as quickly and productively as possible.
There are several purposes served by the department’s compliance and enforcement role. The primary role is to achieve regulatory compliance with environmental laws. At a minimum, this protects human health and the environment. It also supports economic development opportunities and the quality of life in Missouri.
If a problem persists, the department must resort to stronger means to address it. Any problem that is not solved must be quickly elevated to the next stage so that threats to citizens’ health and Missouri resources are addressed promptly. Staff are directed to use the full range of compliance tools to solve environmental problems and address as many aspects of the problem as possible. Since the department has limited resources, compliance and enforcement work also performs the important function of deterring noncompliance. Compliance and enforcement actions ensure a level playing field for those dealing with pollutants and contaminants – no one should make a profit at the expense of the health and resources of Missouri citizens.
Missouri State Operating Permit, or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires a permit for all facilities that discharge or have the potential to discharge to waters of the state. If the department finds a facility operating without a permit, the department will take necessary action against the facility to obtain the necessary permit and bring the facility back into compliance.
Enforcing the Missouri Clean Water Law
The department’s primary compliance and enforcement responsibility and statutory obligation is to work with a facility to achieve compliance. The facility must ensure a sustainable solution is in place so the facility will reach and remain in compliance and thereby ensure protection of the environment. Approximately 90 percent of the department’s enforcement actions are resolved informally through conference, conciliation and persuasion, which is a statutory process for handling noncompliance.
Conference, conciliation and persuasion consist of verbal or written communications between authorized representatives of the department and a party in violation. Conference, conciliation and persuasion is a central concept in achieving compliance and is required by several state environmental laws. Department staff can use this concept any time non-acute violations are detected. The purpose is to encourage prompt correction of violations in a productive way. A formal enforcement action must be taken if the violations are not promptly corrected. Conference, conciliation and persuasion also provides opportunities to handle enforcement cases through informal methods and strives to resolve any finding of noncompliance with statutes, rules, permits or other enforceable provisions.
Conference, conciliation and persuasion is a focused and time limited process that will not exceed 90 days to correct the violation and is neither required nor appropriate if the violations:
- Represent an imminent and serious threat to human health, public welfare or the environment;
- Appear to be intentional or result from negligence or are otherwise criminal; or
- Have a required response specified in rule or guidance.
In cases where the violations are not resolved through conference, conciliation, and persuasion, the department may use formal enforcement actions to obtain compliance, including but not limited to Settlement Agreements, Abatement Orders, Abatement Orders on Consent, Consent Judgments and Court Orders. These agreements include the negotiated actions and a schedule for the responsible party to achieve compliance at the facility or site and pay any civil penalty or damage amounts assessed for the violations. The department also has the option to refer a case the Attorney General’s Office to represent the department in legal action against a responsible party to obtain a court order requiring compliance. Referral to the Attorney General’s Office can occur when:
- The responsible party and the department are unable to reach an agreement to correct the violations.
- The responsible party fails to comply with a formal enforcement action initiated by the department.
- The violations are an imminent and serious threat to human health, public welfare or the environment.
Formal Enforcement Actions
Descriptions of Formal Enforcement Actions
Abatement Order on Consent – is a negotiated administrative or abatement order between a responsible party and the department that resolves past violations and establishes a schedule to correct violations. The effective date of an abatement order on consent is the date the department signs the document. They are not appealable. Failure to comply with the requirements of an consent can result in the payment of stipulated penalties and referral to the Missouri Attorney General’ Office to pursue legal action against the responsible party in circuit court.
Abatement Order- is a unilateral order issued by the department requiring a responsible party to take action to correct violations. A responsible party may appeal an abatement order to the Administrative Hearing Commission within 30 days. If an appeal is not filed, the abatement order becomes final and fully enforceable. Failure to comply with the requirements of an abatement order can result in the payment of stipulated penalties and referral to the Missouri Attorney General’ Office to pursue legal action against the responsible party in circuit court.
Settlement Agreement - is a negotiated agreement between a responsible party and the department and the Attorney General’s Office that resolves past violations and establishes schedule to correct the violations. Failure to comply with the requirements of a settlement agreement can result in the payment of stipulated penalties and referral to the Missouri Attorney General’ Office to pursue legal action against the responsible party in circuit court.
Consent Judgment – is a negotiated court order between a responsible party, the Attorney General’s Office and the department resolving past violations alleged in a petition and establishes a court enforceable schedule to correct the violations.
Judgment or Order - After a case has been filed and litigated through a final hearing, a judge may issue a judgment or order in the case. The judgment or order may contain injunctive relief and civil penalties. Because the violator did not agree to the judgment or order, the violator can appeal it to a court of appeals. A federal consent decree is form of a final order.
Links to lists of the Water Protection Program’s active enforcement cases can be found below. The list includes the operating permit number, the facility name, the owner and indicates if the case has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office. These lists are updated monthly and are organized by facility name and by county for a more accessible search.
Links to the Water Protection Program’s recent enforcement actions can be found below. These reports provide an overall view of the department’s enforcement actions achieved during a month timeframe. Such actions include the number of enforcement cases received from the regional offices, number of cases resolved, number and description of agreements reached, and number of cases referred to the Attorney General’s Office with corresponding litigation actions.
Monthly Enforcement Reports
Annual Enforcement Reports
The Water Pollution Control Branch’s annual enforcement reports provide an overall view of the Water Pollution Control Branch’s enforcement actions and include facility names, NPDES permit numbers and the amount of fines or civil penalties paid. The total civil penalties, damages, monetary payments, and delinquent permit fees collected for the last five years are:
Annual Enforcement Reports
Quarterly and Annual Non-Compliance Reports
In compliance with federal rule 40 CFR 123.45, the department submits quarterly, semi-annual and annual reports to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Reports prepared by the state include the following:.
Quarterly Non-Compliance Reports – By federal rule 40 CFR 123.45 9 (a), the department is required to submit to the EPA quarterly narrative reports for major permittees (i.e. facilities with a flow of greater than or equal to 1 million gallons per day and other large industrial sources). This report details compliance of major facilities, including federally owned Pubically Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) (i.e. municipalities), non-POTWs (i.e. industrial sources/non-muncipalities) and minor 92-500 facilities, including minor POTWs which are facilities that received government grant funding under public law 92-500 to construct their wastewater facilities. The QNCR lists violations related to discharge monitoring reports (e.g. overdue reports, incomplete reports and effluent ex, permit compliance schedules, and enforcement compliance schedules, such as corrective actions required by a settlement agreement or an abatement order on consent. Violations remain on each consecutive report until the permittee resolves the violation (i.e., submits a missing report, resolves effluent exceedances, or completes upgrades, etc.).
- First Quarter Report - includes data for October, November, December
- Second Quarter Report - includes data for January, February, March
- Third Quarter Report - includes data for April, May, June
- Fourth Quarter Report - includes data for July, August, September
Quarterly Non-Compliance Reports
Semi-Annual Reports – By federal rule 40 CFR 123.45 9 (b), the department is required to submit to EPA semi-annual statistical summary reports. The statistical summary reports identify the number of major permittees with two or more violations of the same monthly average permit limitation in a six month period. The department is required to submit the summary reports twice per year with the first and third quarter Quarterly Non-Compliance Reports. Currently, the department prepares a statistical summary report to submit with each of the four quarterly reports and can be found in the quarterly reports listed above. The summary report also provides summary statistics for compliance rates of each permit category reported on the quarterly report (e.g., major municipality, major non-municipality, major federal, and minor 92-500) in each of the department's regions, which are Northeast, St. Louis, Southeast, Southwest, and Kansas City.
Annual Non-Compliance Report – By federal rule 40 CFR 123.45 9 (c), the department is required to submit to EPA an annual noncompliance report on minor permit holders, including the total number of permit holders reviewed, the number of noncomplying minor permit holders, the number of enforcement actions, penalties assessed by the state of Missouri, and number of permit modifications extending compliance deadlines. The annual report consists of noncompliance exhibited by NPDES minor permit holders in the previous calendar year, and includes a list of minor permit holders who are more than one year behind in completing compliance schedule upgrades.
Annual Non-Compliance Reports
EPA Guidance Data
Attached below is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency document titled EPA guidance for CY2007. EPA has sent this guidance document to all states to describe how data should be submitted to EPA. The document alludes to the problem EPA has when trying to compare across all states and territories. Each state conducts its NPDES permit and enforcement activities a little differently even though all states are theoretically following the same instructions from the code of federal regulations. EPA included instructions within the document to request states to stick to the defined terms. In addition, EPA and the states are using different databases. EPA uses Permit Compliance System and some states are using Integrated Compliance Information System. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources uses its Water Quality Information System, which is uploaded into EPA’s Permit Compliance System database. These different reporting systems make comparing states across states and states across EPA even harder. Missouri is developing a new integrated database that will capture all permitting and compliance data. The consolidated database will upload data directly into EPA’s national database.
The department is aware that additional staff and funding are needed to address the gap in compliance and enforcement as well as the overall clean water effort. A concerted effort to address this shortfall began in 2005. Later in 2006, the legislature established a joint committee to consider proposals to restructure the department's Clean Water Fees and to study the department's implementation of the federal clean water program. The committee proposed a 50 percent increase in Clean Water Fees and an additional $3.5 million appropriation along with 20 additional staff to meet the overall clean water gap. However, the proposal developed by the joint committee was never finalized and the additional funding never materialized.