Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement

The department’s regional offices and Water Protection Program staff coordinate efforts to monitor and maintain compliance at regulated facilities and sites across Missouri.

Regional office inspectors and data managers provide assistance and monitor compliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law, its implementing regulations and applicable permits, by conducting file reviews, Compliance Assistance Visits, compliance inspections, and site investigations. A compliance assistance visit is on-site visit conducted by regional office staff at the request of a facility representative, and is intended to improve the facility's understanding of permit and regulatory requirements through guidance and education. File reviews include an evaluation of discharge monitoring reports and other reports submitted by the facility in accordance with permitted requirements. Reports are evaluated for timely submittal, accuracy, completeness and compliance with permitted effluent limitations. Staff also conduct regularly scheduled (i.e., at least once per 5-year permit cycle) compliance inspections at the facility to observe whether or not the facility is in compliance with permit conditions and requirements. Site investigations are also conducted when the department receives an environmental concern reporting violations of the Missouri Clean Water Law.

The Operations Manual provides staff with guidance on how to conduct compliance assistance visits, inspections, and site investigations. If a facility is found to be in noncompliance, regional office staff evaluate the nature of the violations and determine whether it is appropriate to issue the facility a Letter of Warning or a Notice of Violation, or refer the matter to the Water Protection Program’s Compliance and Enforcement Section for elevated enforcement action. Regional office staff consult the Compliance Manual for guidance on when to issue letters of warning and notices of violation, and when to refer matters to the department's Compliance and Enforcement Section.

Provided that the violations do not pose an imminent or immediate threat to public health or the environment, regional office staff attempt to use conference, conciliation, and persuasion (CC&P) to achieve voluntary compliance. The purpose of CC&P is to encourage prompt correction of the violation in a cooperative manner, and often includes face-to-face meetings, phone calls, letters and emails to achieve compliance. Approximately 90 percent of the department’s enforcement actions are resolved informally through CC&P. CC&P is time-limited; if the violations are not corrected in a timely manner, staff may refer the matter to the Compliance and Enforcement Section to take formal enforcement action to compel compliance.

The Compliance and Enforcement Section reviews regional office and Water Pollution Control Branch activities for consistency with regulatory requirements, and establishes compliance schedules for regulated facilities. This section initiates formal enforcement action to encourage or compel compliance where the responsible party does not voluntarily comply to ensure that regulated facilities and activities are managed by responsible individuals who can effectively operate and maintain them. This section is also involved in the upkeep of the department’s database, the Missouri Clean Water Information System (MoCWIS), to ensure basic compliance information is readily available to the public.

The focus of the Compliance and Enforcement Section is on the continued enforcement of the Missouri Clean Water Law and its implementing regulations. The Compliance and Enforcement Section manages a myriad of cases referred by the regional offices, including but not limited to land disturbance sites, municipal and non-municipal wastewater treatment facilities and associated collection systems, industrial stormwater sites and confined animal feeding operations. When facilities are referred to the Compliance and Enforcement Section, staff attempt to negotiate mutual resolutions including compliance schedules, and often civil penalties, to resolve past violations through abatement orders on consent or settlement agreements. When the section’s attempts to negotiate a resolution are unsuccessful, the section may request that the Water Protection Program staff director issue a unilateral order requiring compliance or request that the matter be referred to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to achieve compliance.

In 2012, the Compliance and Enforcement Section developed a new website to provide transparency to the public regarding the enforcement process. The section posts reports documenting compliance rates and copies of all formal enforcement resolution documents, such as department-issued abatement orders on consent, settlement agreements, and unilateral orders, and court-ordered consent judgments and default judgments. The section is currently developing new processes by which staff can provide communities and businesses with guidance and recommendations to achieve and maintain compliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law, its implementing regulations, and applicable permits. The Compliance and Enforcement Section will continue to update its compliance monitoring and enforcement procedures, and interagency cooperative agreements, on a continual basis to improve transparency, coordination and efficiency.

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