How Food Companies Can Manage Changing WDNR Procedures

Don’t panic. Here’s what to do if you’ve received a Notice of Noncompliance (NON) or Notice of Violation (NOV) from the WDNR.

Procedures are changing within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) when it comes to Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit management. In the past, some situations that may been addressed via phone call to your regional WDNR engineer, or a simple notation in your Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR), might now result in a more formal Notice of Noncompliance or Notice of Violation letter.

Response to and resolution of a NON or NOV generates written documentation, so regulators can demonstrate they are, in fact, administering the rules and regulations. When an issue is resolved there will also be supporting documentation to verify compliance. In some cases, the more formal approach may seem excessive. But in the end a well-documented incident-response record provides you with more security and accuracy than anecdotes or hazy memories.

The WDNR is working to improve reporting and recordkeeping while developing online resources to make information more readily available. They plan to perform internal training and education so rules and regulations are applied uniformly and consistently wherever you have operations.

Four ways to manage changing regulatory procedures

1. Know your WPDES permit.

Read it and be sure you understand all of the requirements. If you don’t understand, call your WDNR contact to discuss. They are there to help you succeed as well as administer rules and regulations.

2. Set up a calendar for compliance.

Many times WPDES permits require actions that must be undertaken in the coming 6 months, or sampling that must occur in year 3 of the permit term. Take the time to establish a wall calendar, or electronic calendar with highlights and alarms to remind you of future requirements.

3. Invite your regulator to visit your operation.

Regulatory staff are required to visit your facility at least once during the term of your permit. Schedule the visit on your terms rather than waiting for a surprise visit. Staffing changes have occurred in many WDNR regions and the visit can serve as a great face-to-face introduction to new regulatory staff.

4. Call the WDNR.

When you have an operational upset or issue, call the WDNR to let them know as soon as possible – not later in the afternoon, tomorrow, or at the end of the month when you submit the DMR. As soon as you are aware of an issue, and it is safely resolved (in the case of a spill, fire or other emergency), then notify your WDNR contact and provide the information requested as quickly as possible.

What if you’ve taken these steps and still receive a NON or NOV?

Take a deep breath, review the notification and, if necessary, contact professionals for assistance. Engineers, consultants and attorneys work with these issues every day, and can help you navigate compliance requirements.

Still have questions?

Dan Schaefer

Dan Schaefer has more than 14 years’ experience working with difficult to treat industrial wastewater, environmental compliance, and permitting for food, beverage, and industrial clients throughout Wisconsin and the US. Contact Dan

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