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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; National Water Quality Inventory Reports (Clean Water Act Sections 305(b), 303(d), 314(a), and 106(e)); EPA ICR No. 1560.08, OMB Control No. 2040-0071

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this document announces that EPA is planning to submit a request to renew an existing approved Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This ICR is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2007. Before submitting the ICR to OMB for review and approval, EPA is soliciting comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before October 1, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OW-2007-0026, by one of the following methods:

  • http://www.regulations.gov (our preferred method): Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
  • E-mail: OW-Docket@epa.gov.
  • Mail: EPA Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode (2822T) 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW., Washington, DC 20460.

Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2007-0026. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at: http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identify or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your e-mail address will be automatically Start Printed Page 41750captures and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at: http://www.epa.gov/​epahome/​dockets.htm.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alice Mayio, Assessment and Watershed Protection Division, Office of Water, Mail Code: 4503T, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-566-1184; fax number: 202-566-1437; e-mail address: Mayio.alice@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

How Can I Access the Docket and/or Submit Comments?

EPA has established a public docket for this ICR under Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OW-2007-0026, which is available for online viewing at: http://www.regulations.gov or in-person viewing at the Water Docket in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Water Docket is (202) 566-2426.

Use http://www.regulations.gov to obtain a copy of the draft collection of information, submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the docket ID number identified in this document.

What Information Is EPA Particularly Interested in?

Pursuant to section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, EPA specifically solicits comments and information to enable it to:

(i) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

(ii) evaluate the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

(iii) enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

(iv) minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g. permitting electronic submission of responses.

What Should I Consider When I Prepare My Comments for EPA?

You may find the following suggestions helpful for preparing your comments:

1. Explain your views as clearly as possible and provide specific examples.

2. Describe any assumptions that you used.

3. Provide copies of any technical information and/or data you used to support your views.

4. If you estimate potential burden or costs, explain how you arrived at the estimate that you provide.

5. Offer alternative ways to improve the collection activity.

6. Make sure to submit your comments by the deadline identified under DATES.

7. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, be sure to identify the docket ID number assigned to this action in the subject line of the first page of your response. You may also provide the name, date, and Federal Register citation.

What Information Collection Activity or ICR Does This Apply to?

Affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are States, Territories and Tribes with Clean Water Act (CWA) responsibilities.

Title: National Water Quality Inventory Reports (Clean Water Act Sections 305(b), 303(d), 314(a), and 106(e)).

ICR numbers: EPA ICR Number 1560.08 (OMB Control Number 2040-0071).

ICR status: This ICR is currently scheduled to expire on September 30, 2007. An Agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations in title 40 of the CFR, after appearing in the Federal Register when approved, are listed in 40 CFR part 9, are displayed either by publication in the Federal Register or by other appropriate means, such as on the related collection instrument or form, if applicable. The display of OMB control numbers in certain EPA regulations is consolidated in 40 CFR part 9.

Abstract: Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires States to identify and rank waters which cannot meet water quality standards (WQS) following the implementation of technology-based controls. Under section 303(d), States are also required to establish total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for listed waters not meeting standards as a result of pollutant discharges. In developing the Section 303(d) lists, States are required to consider various sources of water quality related data and information, including the section 305(b) State water quality reports. The section 305(b) reports contain information on the extent of water quality degradation, the pollutants and sources affecting water quality, and State progress in controlling water pollution. Section 106(e) requires that states annually update monitoring data and include it in their section 305(b) report. Section 314(a) requires states to report on the condition of their publicly-owned lakes within the section 305(b) report.

EPA's Assessment and Watershed Protection Division (AWPD) works with its Regional counterparts to review and approve or disapprove State section 303(d) lists and TMDLs from 56 respondents (the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the five Territories). Section 303(d) specifically requires States to develop lists and TMDLs (from time to time,” and EPA to review and approve or disapprove the lists and the TMDLs. EPA also collects State 305(b) reports from 59 respondents (the 50 States, the District of Columbia, five Territories, and 3 River Basin commissions). Some Tribes also choose to participate in 305(b) reporting.

This announcement includes the reapproval of current, ongoing activities related to 305(b) and 303(d) reporting and TMDL development for the period of October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2010. During the period covered by this ICR renewal, respondents will: Complete their 2008 305(b) reports and 2008 303(d) lists; complete their 2010 305(b) reports and 2010 303(d) lists; transmit annual electronic updates of their 305(b) databases in 2008 through 2010; and continue to develop TMDLs according to their established schedules. EPA will prepare biennial Reports to Congress for the 2008 reporting cycle Start Printed Page 41751and for the 2010 cycle, and EPA will review TMDL submissions from respondents.

The respondent community for 305(b) reporting consists of 50 States, the District of Columbia, 5 Territories (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands), and 3 River Basin Commissions. The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Interstate Sanitation Commission have jurisdiction over basins that lie in multiple States. Tribal 305(b) reporting is not included in the current burden estimates for this ICR.

The respondent community for 303(d) activities consists of 50 States, the District of Columbia, and 5 Territories (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands). Although Indian Tribes are not exempt from 303(d) requirements, there is not a process currently in place to designate them for this purpose. Further, very few Tribes have established water quality standards, and EPA is currently in the process of preparing standards where they are needed. Therefore, we assume that there would be no burden to Indian Tribes over the period covered by this ICR for 303(d) activities.

The burdens of specific activities that States undertake as part of their 305(b) and 303(d) programs are derived from an ongoing project among EPA, States and other interested stakeholders to develop a tool for estimating the States' resource needs for State water quality management programs. This project has developed the State Water Quality Management Workload Model (SWQMWM), which estimates and sums the workload involved in more than one hundred activities or tasks comprising a State water quality management program. Over twenty States have contributed information about their activities that became the basis for the model. According to the SWQMWM, the States will carry out the following activities or tasks to meet the 305(b) and 303(d) reporting requirements: Watershed monitoring and characterization; modeling and analysis; development of a TMDL document for public review; public outreach; formal public participation; tracking; planning; legal support; etc. In general, respondents have conducted each of these reporting and record keeping activities for past 305(b) and 303(d) reporting cycles and thus have staff and procedures in place to continue their 305(b) and 303(d) reporting programs. The burden associated with these tasks is estimated in this ICR to include the total number of TMDLs that may be submitted during the period covered by this ICR.

The biennial frequency of the collection is mandated by section 305(b)(1) of the CWA. Section 305(b) originally required respondents to submit water quality reports on an annual basis. In 1977, the annual requirement was amended to a biennial requirement in the CWA. EPA has determined that abbreviated reporting for hard-copy 305(b) reports, combined with annual electronic reporting using respondent databases, will meet the CWA reporting requirements while reducing burden to respondents. The biennial period with annual electronic reporting ensures that information needed for analysis and water program decisions is reasonably current, yet abbreviated reporting requirements provides respondents with sufficient time to prepare the reports.

Burden Statement: The annual public reporting and recordkeeping burden for this collection of information is expected to average 3,740,017 hours. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; adjust the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable instructions and requirements; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

The ICR provides a detailed explanation of the Agency's estimate, which is only briefly summarized here:

Estimated Total Number of Potential Respondents: 59.

Frequency of Response: Biannually.

Estimated Total Average Number of Responses for Each Respondent: 29.5.

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 3,740,017.

Estimated Total Annual Costs: $155,322,906. These costs are entirely attributed to labor, with $0 attributable to capital investment or maintenance and operational costs.

Are There Changes in the Estimates From the Last Approval?

There is no change in the total estimated respondent burden estimates identified in the ICR currently approved by OMB. EPA will be revising these burden estimates before submitting this ICR to OMB based on developments in the program over the last three years and comments received from the public. We expect that the currently-approved burden may be affected by increased reliance on electronic reporting (including submittal, review and approval of electronic water quality information by EPA and the states) and increased Tribal water quality reporting.

What Is the Next Step in the Process for This ICR?

EPA will consider the comments received and amend the ICR as appropriate. The final ICR package will then be submitted to OMB for review and approval pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.12. At that time, EPA will issue another Federal Register notice pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.5(a)(1)(iv) to announce the submission of the ICR to OMB and the opportunity to submit additional comments to OMB. If you have any questions about this ICR or the approval process, please contact the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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Dated: July 24, 2007.

Craig E. Hooks,

Director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.

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[FR Doc. E7-14770 Filed 7-30-07; 8:45 am]

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