EPA and State Signatory Requirements
EPA regulations specify who can sign the biosolids annual report (see 40 CFR 122.22). States have similar implementing regulations (e.g., 30 Texas Administration Code 305.128). People authorized under these regulations to sign the biosolids annual report are:
- For a corporation - a responsible corporate officer;
- For a partnership or sole proprietorship - a general partner or the proprietor; and
- For a municipality, State, Federal, or other public agency - a principal executive officer, a ranking elected official, or a "Duly Authorized Representative."
EPA and state implementing regulations allow a principal executive officer or ranking elected official for a municipality, State, Federal, or other public agency to designate a "Duly Authorized Representative" (or "DAR"). As noted in EPA and state regulations, these DAR designations should be documented and submitted to the permitting authority prior to biosolids annual report submissions. States have processes and forms to document these DAR designations. For example, Texas requires permittees to complete and submit a form in order to document who has been delegated as a DAR.
It is important to note that NeT-Biosolids does not collect, manage, document, or record these DAR designations. Please contact your permitting authority if you are unsure of your authority to properly sign a biosolids annual report. On a related note, the NPDES eRule does not require these DAR designations to be electronically submitted (see Table 1, 40 CFR 127.16).
NeT-Biosolids Features Related to Signatory Requirements
NeT-Biosolids documents the answer to the following question – “who signed this biosolids annual report?” and it also gives NPDES regulated entities and regulatory authorities the ability to manage who has access to a facility.
Issue #1 - “Who signed this biosolids annual report?”
There are two roles open to NPDES regulated entities (e.g., POTWs) in NeT-Biosolids: Signatory and Preparer.
Signatory - Can prepare, sign, and submit all forms in NeT. In accordance with EPA’s regulations (at 40 CFR 503.17(a), 503.27(a), 503.47(a)), a person with the Signatory role is the person who prepares or handles the sewage sludge for land application, surface disposal, or incineration. This is the person who will certify, under penalty of law, that the information submitted in the biosolids annual report was prepared under his or her direction and supervision in accordance with the system designed to ensure that qualified personnel properly gathered and evaluated the submitted information. The Signatory will electronically sign the annual report, which EPA will use to determine compliance with Part 503. Please select this role if you are allowed to sign an annual report under EPA or state regulations (see above). This includes persons that are properly designated as DARs.
Preparer - Can prepare all forms in NeT on behalf of the Signatory at the facility but is not authorized by EPA’s regulations to sign and submit any forms. The NeT-Biosolids application will not allow someone with the role of "Preparer" to sign a biosolids annual report.
The above references to 40 CFR 503.17(a) refer to the record-keeping requirements in EPA’s biosolids regulations. The EPA reporting regulation (503.18) requires the annual report to contain the information in §503.17(a).
Because NeT is CROMERR-approved (see 40 CFR part 3) – EPA and states will be able to determine who electronically signed and submitted any particular biosolids annual report. Only NeT-Biosolids users with the CDX role of Signatory can use the NeT-Biosolids application to sign a biosolids annual report.
Issue #2 – “Who can sign this biosolids annual report?”
Through EPA's Central Data Exchange (CDX) - when a person seeks the “Signatory” role for NeT-Biosolids in CDX they sign the standard CDX Electronic Signatory Agreement (ESA) that includes the following condition:
“(11) Certify I have the authority to enter into this Agreement on behalf of the Organization identified above, and I am a signatory authorized to represent that Organization, and I am able to sign and submit reports and other information on behalf of that Organization in the capacity required by Statute and/or regulation.”
Note – a similar condition is also provided in the standard NetDMR Electronic Signatory Agreement (ESA) – see attached.
“(13) Certify that I am the Responsible Official or their Duly Authorized representative as defined in 40 C.F.R. § 122.22 for the facilities listed in this agreement; and I certify that I have the authority to enter into this Agreement on behalf of the facilities listed above”
A person with the "Preparer" role does not sign an ESA as they will be signing the biosolids annual report.
Through the NeT-Biosolids application - when a user requests access to a facility they click on the “Request Permission for Existing Facility” bar.
The user will select different permissions (Form Access, View, and Manage) for a particular facility.
Form Access: This permission gives the NeT-Biosolids user the ability to create, edit, delete, or sign biosolids annual reports for the facility.
View: This permission gives the NeT-Biosolids user read-only access to the facility and annual reports.
Manage: This permission gives the NeT-Biosolids user the ability to manage access to the facility for other NeT-Biosolids users. [Note: NeT-Biosolids users must also select “View” permission when they want the “Manage” permission. Also, only NeT-Biosolids users that have the CDX role of Signatory (see above) can request the “Manage” permission.]
A NeT-Biosolids user with the “Manage” permission for a facility can grant one or more NeT-Biosolids users access to their facility. If a facility does not have a NeT-Biosolids user with the “Manage” permission, then only the Regulatory Authority can grant a NeT-Biosolids user access to that facility. These permission requests are shown in the "Action Center."
In order to minimize the number of “Form Access” permission requests that the Regulatory Authority needs to review, EPA created the “Manage” permission. NeT-Biosolids users with “Manage” permission can grant the “Form Access” permission to other staff at the facility but can’t create, edit, sign, or submit annual reports. There is an unlikely scenario that someone at the facility with the “Manage” permission inappropriately approves someone (e.g., the janitor) for the “Form Access” permission. If the Regulatory Authority is concerned about this unlikely scenario – they can elect to reject some or all requests for the “Manage” permission. This will require them to manually approve each “Form Access” permission request (i.e., only users with the “Form Access” permission can sign and submit a report).
To address the unlikely scenario (janitor signing report) – NeT-Biosolids also alerts users that only certain people can sign the biosolids annual report.