DEQ implements and enforces water quality laws, regulations, policies, and plans to protect the waters of the state. Timely and consistent enforcement is critical to the success of the water quality program and to ensure that the people of Arkansas have clean water. The goal of the Enforcement Branch is to protect and enhance the quality of the waters of the state by defining an enforcement process that addresses water quality problems in the most efficient, effective, and consistent manner.

The enforcement program relies on well-developed compliance monitoring systems designed to identify and correct violations, help establish an enforcement presence, collect evidence needed to support enforcement actions where there are identified violations, and help target and rank enforcement priorities.

Discharge Monitoring Reporting

DEQ issues two types of permits for wastewater treatment facilities. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits require wastewater dischargers to monitor and regulate levels of pollutants discharged from their facilities to the waters of the state. Maintaining compliance with required discharge quantities and/or concentrations (effluent limits) for pollutants. The NPDES program relies heavily on self-monitoring and self-reporting by the permittee to determine compliance with effluent limits. In addition to the NPDES program, DEQ’s State No-Discharge permits are issued to facilities that treat wastewater but do not have a point-source discharge to the waters of the state, such as drip irrigation treatment systems or hog waste ponds.

Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs)

Monitoring results are reported on a routine basis to DEQ on Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) forms. The submission of timely, complete, and accurate DMRs is vital to ensuring compliance. Failure of a facility to submit a properly completed and signed DMR within the time period specified by the permit is a violation of the NPDES permit and subject to formal enforcement action.

NPDES Electronic Filing Through NetDMR

Beginning December 21, 2016, Arkansas NPDES permittees are required to submit discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) electronically using the web-based tool NetDMR. Permittees can complete reports that are specific to their permit limits and transfer them to the EPA through a secure internet application.

Monthly Monitoring Reports (MMRs)

The Monthly Monitoring Report (MMR) is similar to the DMR. MMRs are for No-Discharge Systems that need to be monitored on a monthly basis (e.g., drip irrigation systems).

Noncompliance Reporting - 24-Hour Notification Required
(includes bypass, upsets, and overflow reporting)

Permittees are required to report any instances of noncompliance that may endanger human health or the environment to DEQ’s Water Quality Enforcement. Notification must be made within 24 hours of becoming aware of the circumstances, and in most cases, an additional 50-day written report is required for the following occurrences:

  • Any Unanticipated Bypass of part or all of the treatment system, whether or not the effluent will still meet permitted limitations.
  • Any Upset of the treatment system.
  • Any Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO), no matter how small.
  • Any Unpermitted Discharge form either a collection or treatment system, regardless of whether it reaches waters of the state.

24-Hour Reporting Methods:

Noncompliances with permitted effluent limits, a bypass of part or all of the treatment system, an upset, and an overflow condition are all deviations from the permit conditions and are subject to reporting. The permittee is usually required to report the following instances of noncompliance within 24 hours of becoming aware of the circumstances.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows Reporting

Sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) are releases of untreated sewage into the environment and are illegal under the Clean Water Act. A sanitary sewer overflow causes raw sewage to overflow out of manholes before it can reach the treatment facility. All SSOs are prohibited and must be reported, no matter how small.

Enforcement and Penalties

The Enforcement Branch monitors compliance and is responsible for initiating the appropriate level of enforcement action against facilities that have No-Discharge state-issued permits, unpermitted facilities, and NDPES major and minor facilities, including stormwater dischargers permitted to discharge into the waters of the state, and industrial users of publicly owned treatment works in cities without an approved local pretreatment program.

Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) is the public access website to data stored in EPA's compliance and enforcement data system, including Integrated Compliance Information System – NPDES (ICIS-NPDES) for facilities regulated under the Clean Water Act NPDES program. ECHO allows users to find and download information on permit data, inspections, violations, enforcement actions, and penalties. The ECHO website was recently modernized and redesigned to make it easier to use and maintain.

Wastewater Operator Licensing Program

Each wastewater treatment plant must have a licensed operator to make operational decisions for the plant. This operator must be licensed at an equal or greater classification than the plant's classification. Requirements for the licensing of wastewater treatment plant operators were established by Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Regulation 3. Enforcement Branch employees oversee the Wastewater Operator Licensing Program, traveling the state to test the license operators of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants. DEQ posts training opportunities and maintains data searches for licensed wastewater operators in the state.