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May 28, 1998 

Council helps DEC develop electronic information filing system

A new program developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), The Business Council, and DMR Data, an Albany software firm, will speed the transfer of information between wastewater dischargers and the agencies that oversee the quality of New York State's waters.

The new program was announced May 26 by DEC.

Under the program, operators of facilities with wastewater discharge permits will be able to submit their monthly wastewater Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) directly to DEC from their own computer databases rather than sending paper reports.

The data interchange system at DEC will accept the electronic reports and transmit discharge monitoring data to and from each of DEC's nine regional offices and to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

John P. Cahill, commissioner of DEC, credited The Council for its "initiative and support."

"This project would not have happened without an effective partnership between DEC and the state's regulated community," he said.

Ken Pokalsky, Director of Environmental Programs for The Business Council, said The Council is committed to expanding this approach to other programs within DEC and even to other state agencies.

He noted, for example, that DEC is already exploring other opportunities for electronic transfer of data, including reports of hazardous waste shipments, annual hazardous waste generation and compliance assurance monitoring for Title V air permits, and pesticide sales and use data.

"This innovation is a great fit with the Governor's regulatory reform goals," Pokalsky said.

"It will significantly help our members by simplifying compliance and, in the process, containing the costs of the compliance process," he added.

The new DEC program is the first electronic reporting program for permit holders at DEC.

The monitoring reports are a requirement of DEC's wastewater discharge permits. These reports summarize results of sampling each facility must conduct on its discharges under the state's self-monitoring program to protect the environment. Monitoring reports cover the analysis of various pollutants and verify compliance with the facilities' permits.

Approximately 1,800 municipal and industrial facilities submit 4,000 to 5,000 paper pages of reports to DEC each month. Although the typical monthly report is two to three pages long, reports for some larger facilities run up to 25 pages.

Under the program, up to 20 facilities a month will be phased into the new reporting system. After a successful two-month trial, facilities will be allowed to stop submitting written reports.

New York's compliance rates for these permits remain consistently among the best in the nation for comparably sized states. Verification of data submitted electronically will be included as part of DEC's inspection program.