A recent EPA Office of Inspector General (IG) report says that most Clean Water Act (CWA) memoranda of agreement (MOAs) between EPA and the states are out-of-date, inconsistent or both. As part of a system of national management controls, federal regulations require authorizing MOAs between EPA and every state operating a CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. According to the report, the MOAs define baselines and set collaborative expectations for program characteristics, permitting, monitoring, inspections, and enforcement.  

According to the report, the existing MOAs hinder EPA’s ability to manage and enforce the NPDES program because 75 percent of the MOAs were established more than 10 years ago and do not reflect changes in the law or regulations. The report recommends that EPA (i) develop a national template for MOAs with essential requirements, (ii) develop a systematic approach to identify which states have outdated or inconsistent MOAs and renegotiate and update them, (iii) establish a process for reviewing the MOAs on a regular basis, and (iv) maintain a publicly available MOA repository.