Clean Water Act violations reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropped by more than half in the years following an interstate compliance agreement, the EPA announced Tuesday.
In 2018, the EPA and 47 states reached an agreement to cut noncompliance with the law by 50 percent in the next five years. The effort has reached its goal ahead of schedule, slashing noncompliance from 20.3 percent in early 2018 to 9 percent, according to the agency. The initiative applied to about 46,000 facilities nationwide that are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.
“Five years ago, EPA set an ambitious goal for cutting the rate of significant noncompliance with Clean Water Act permits in half,” Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement.
“Today I’m pleased to announce that we have met and exceeded that target achieving a historically low rate of 9 percent. This notable achievement speaks to what EPA and the states can accomplish together to improve compliance and reduce Clean Water Act violations.”
The progress on the initiative reduces the number of facilities with “significant non-compliance” violations by about 4,000 and eliminated about 23.7 million pounds of illegally discharged water pollutants, according to the EPA.
The agency attributed the achievement to a combination of state-federal partnerships, including more than 600 meetings with individual state regulators.
The announcement comes as the EPA is reportedly considering a long-term presence in Jackson, Miss., after flooding knocked out the city’s water treatment plant, causing the city’s second water crisis in as many years.
The City Council voted this week to enter an “interim stipulated order” with the EPA, lasting a year and implemented through a third party. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agreement must still be approved through a federal judge and that further long-term measures remain under discussion.