NNCR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQs are organized into the following categories on this page:
What is the NNCR?
NNCR stands for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Noncompliance Report, which stems from 40 CFR §123.45 and requires U.S. EPA to produce online quarterly and annual noncompliance reports with the minimum content specified within the regulation. The NNCRs will eventually replace both the Quarterly Noncompliance Reports (QNCRs) and the Annual Noncompliance Reports (ANCRs).
What is the difference between the quarterly and annual NNCR?
The quarterly NNCR is a public list of facilities with violations. For each facility, the quarterly report must include a list of all violations that occurred within the quarter, details about the violation(s), enforcement action(s) taken in response to the violation(s), and include violations from previous quarterly reports that have not been resolved. The annual NNCR is an annual summary of compliance monitoring and enforcement activities within each state, tribe, and territory. It must also include summary information on violations identified in the four quarterly NNCRs for that federal fiscal year.
When is the start date for NNCR publication?
The first quarterly reports available to the public will be for FY2021Q1-FY2023Q1 and will be available by February 28, 2023. It will include data from Discharge Monitoring Reports [40 CFR 122.41(l)(4)], Biosolids Annual Program Reports [40 CFR part 503] (when the Regional Administrator is the Director), and information that is required to be submitted by the State Director (see Appendix A, 40 CFR part 127). The first annual report available to the public will be for FY2021-FY2023 and available by March 1, 2023. Data provided for FY2023 and is not inclusive of all compliance and enforcement activities for the entire fiscal year, but is up-to-date as of the last weekly data refresh.
EPA provided authorized NPDES programs with one year to review and provide comments on draft versions of the NNCR prior to their public release.
With the NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule – Phase 2 Extension, the quarterly and annual NNCRs will incorporate additional Phase 2 data as it becomes available. The deadline for incorporation of phase 2 data into the NNCR is December 21, 2026.
When is the NNCR expected to be available?
EPA will make a beta version of the reports available to regulatory authorities through ECHO Lab, a restricted access area of ECHO Gov, one year before the regulatory deadline for testing and comment period before the deadline for public release.
Why is a facility listed on the NNCR?
A facility will be listed on a quarterly NNCR if the facility had a violation that occurred during that quarter or had any violations from previous quarters that have not been resolved.
How is a facility removed from the NNCR?
A facility will be automatically removed from future quarterly NNCRs if the facility has no violations that occurred during the new quarter and all violations from the previous quarters were resolved prior to the quarter's start date.
Is the NNCR data archived or frozen?
No, EPA is not archiving past versions of the NNCR. Instead, it is an up-to-date reflection of violations. For example, if a data error caused a violation to appear and was later corrected, the correction would "fix" the historic data and the update would be reflected in the applicable quarterly and annual reports after the next data refresh.
When transitioning from the QNCR to the NNCR, will the compliance status of historic violations be reevaluated with NNCR rules?
No, when transitioning from the QNCR to the quarterly NNCR, EPA does not anticipate that historic QNCR statuses will be reevaluated with NNCR rules.
How were states and EPA Regions included in NNCR planning and development?
The NNCR work group has been meeting bi-weekly since January 2018. By the time of public release of the NNCR, work group members will have participated in the design of the search form, display of quarterly and annual reports, and developing guidelines to support the implementation of the NNCR requirements, NNCR Guide, and NNCR FAQs.
Will there be an opportunity for state to comment and the EPA to act on those comments, even if they require significant changes, once the NNCR is rolled out? What checking or assessment process on the draft data would be retained, which would allow states to check data for accuracy before the window date closes?
Within the NNCR work group, there have been discussions on states needing a 1-year testing and review period to resolve issues before a final report is made public. EPA believes this review period is critically important and made the NNCR available for iterative testing by NNCR work group members via ECHO Lab with real compliance data. During that time, EPA made updates through development sprints and incorporating comments and requests from the work group.
How does the NNCR relate to the EPA's Clean Water Act NPDES Enforcement Management System (EMS) guidance? How often does the EPA expect the states to review the NNCR?
The NNCR is an expanded public compendium of violations and is not a management tool. Like the QNCR, the NNCR does not establish or revise EPA NPDES program management recommendations in EPA guidance documents.
Does the NNCR change the Significant Noncompliance (SNC) definition in EPA guidance?
No, the NNCR does not change the significant noncompliance definition established in existing EPA guidance as a program management tool. The NNCR requires that all violations listed on the quarterly NNCR be listed as a Category I or Category II Noncompliance and Category I is generally, but not always, considered more serious than Category II. The criteria for Category I violations are established in the regulatory framework for enforcement order violations, compliance construction violations, permit effluent limit violations, reporting violations, non-numeric effluent violations, and those considered to be of concern at the discretion of EPA or state regulatory authorities. All other types of noncompliance that do not meet the criteria for Category I noncompliance are classified as Category II.
What are some key changes that are expected in the NNCR, in comparison to what is included in the QNCR and ANCR?
The reports will be available to the public through ECHO. While the QNCR was specific to majors and the ANCR was specific to non-majors, both the quarterly and annual NNCRs include facilities with violations for majors, non-majors, and unpermitted facilities. For the quarterly report, there will be more sorting/filtering capabilities, use of plain English, and contain all violations (i.e., not limited to those considered reportable noncompliance (RNC) for the QNCR), and include more details related to each violation.
Will EPA continue running the QNCR after the NNCR is complete?
EPA does not anticipate continuing to run the QNCR after full implementation of the NNCR with eRule Phase 2 data in 2027.
Will the NNCR retain the existing data terminology used in the NPDES program?
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program has a long history of acronyms and technical terms that are well known by program insiders. Some of the terms do not easily convey a transparent message for data users or the public that are not well versed in the NPDES program nuances. Additionally, there are some terms used for the QNCR that were not needed for the NNCR. During development, some terminology changes have been made so that the NNCR is in plain language and that the terminology used within the program can be transparent and understandable both the public and data users.
What are EPA’s anticipated plans for states to use ECHO to assess compliance on a more real-time basis as compared to the QNCR process?
We anticipate that the NNCR will be updated at least weekly, which is a significant shift from the existing process where the facility-level compliance status is frozen unless prompted to be re-run after new data has been submitted. Currently within the ECHO Detailed Facility Report (DFR), the Quarter 12 Facility-Level Status displays the last official QNCR status. Quarter 13 status displays “Violation” if there are any violations detected since the last official run of the QNCR, like effluent violations. Other violations, like DMR non-receipt violations, do not become “official” until the official run of the QNCR and are hidden from display in Quarter 13. We anticipate that the NNCR will continue the practice of having “official” quarterly data and newer “preliminary” data available.
Will there be a way to automate detecting "non-QNCR" violations for a manual enforcement review (e.g., pH, bacteria, or WET violations)?
The quarterly NNCR will include all violations, include those that do not meet current RNC criteria for the QNCR. They will be automatically detected and requests for how to search and filter these types of violations should be sent to Courtney Tuxbury (firstname.lastname@example.org) or requested during NNCR work group meetings.
Will the ranking of the violations be included in the NNCR? Will it be possible to sort and/or filter?
The quarterly NNCR will not rank violations, however, it will include a list of all violations in a quarter. It will be possible to sort and filter on these violations on the webpage. Requests for specific violation filters should sent to Courtney Tuxbury (email@example.com) or requested during NNCR work group meetings.