Inspections are visits to a facility or site by a regulating agency for the purpose of assessing compliance with applicable regulations and permit conditions. There are three primary objectives that are to be achieved during an inspection, which include:
- Determining the compliance status with regulations, permit conditions, and additional program requirements
- Verifying accuracy of information submitted by the permittee
- Verifying the adequacy of sampling and monitoring conducted by the permittee
Additional objective may include:
- Gathering evidence to support enforcement actions
- Obtaining information that supports the permitting process
- Assessing compliance with formal enforcement actions
The Montana Water Quality Act authorizes the Department, or an authorized representative, to conduct inspections at permitted facilities and sites in the Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program. Compliance Inspectors in the Water Protection Bureau conduct the various types of inspections at permitted facilities and sites throughout the state. Other inspectors that may conduct an inspection include: a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative, a local regulatory agency, or a contractor using state or federal credentials.
Prior to the inspection, an inspector will evaluate the current compliance status of a permitted facility or site using existing information and establish a preplan. The purpose of the preplan is to identify potential areas of noncompliance and to facilitate the inspection process. Activities that may be conducted during the inspection include:
- Interviewing facility or site representatives
- Reviewing required records
- Reviewing and verifying the validity of information submitted
- Identifying causes of noncompliance
- Reviewing the operating conditions of the facility or site
- Acquiring samples
- Providing necessary compliance assistance
- Obtaining factual information to be used in permit development
The above activities will be completed in one of the four major components of an inspection: Entry/Introduction, Records Review, Facility Site Evaluation, and Conclusion/Preliminary Findings. Factual information and observations acquired by the inspector during the inspection will be presented in an Inspection Report Package. The Inspection Report Package will include a Cover Letter, MPDES 3560 Form, Narrative Inspection Report, and Photo Report.
Permittees are required to review the Inspection Report Package and address potential areas of noncompliance and/or areas of noncompliance. Permittees may be required to submit a written response addressing each area of noncompliance by a date specified in the Cover Letter. Please contact the Compliance Inspector if there are questions regarding the factual findings and observations contained in the Narrative Inspection Report or if assistance is needed in drafting the response.
Please Note: to order to ensure compliance, it is the expectation of the Department that the permittee address each of the factual findings presented in the Narrative Inspection Report.
For further information, please contact the Water Protection Bureau at (406) 444-3080.