Stormwater Compliance and Electronic Signature Law
Electronic Signatures Make Fully Digital Stormwater Compliance a Reality.
For starters, let’s take a quick look at some of the places where a signature and a certification are required for stormwater compliance.
- The NOI Permit
- Right from the start of a project or facility, the owner or operator has to file for coverage under a permit. That permit has to be signed and certified using specific language in the permit.
- The Plan
- Whether your site requires a SWPPP, a Long-Term Plan, a SWMP, or otherwise, all stormwater plans are required to be certified by a responsible party.
- Most states and the EPA require that inspection reports be signed and certified. Some areas require inspections to be signed multiple times, like after the inspection and again after all corrective actions are completed, or by a regulator and by someone on site.
- Corrective Action Items
- Depending on what it says in your permit, you may need to sign off corrective action items.
- Other Reports
- From dewatering, to stream-alteration, to analytical monitoring, and more, practically every report you need to generate probably needs to be signed.
Did I miss any? Let me know if there are any other required signatures that I didn’t mention.
Lots and Lots of Paper
All those signed documents and reports mean one thing, lots and lots of paper. We estimate that a single project can use over 10 lbs of paper. That’s more than 1000 sheets.
When you are trying to comply with environmental regulations, does it really make sense to use all that paper? Luckily, electronic signature laws throughout the U.S. make it possible to manage your entire stormwater compliance program digitally.
In the U.S., 47 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).
The UETA is a long document, with lots of information, but the most relevant to us is the following:
- Electronic signatures may not be denied legal effect solely because they are in electronic form.
- If a law requires a record to be in writing, an electronic record satisfies the law.
- If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.
- If a law requires the retention of records, those records may be retained electronically.
There is one major caveat to the electronic signature being eligible under the UETA; that the signature must be attributable to the person who executed it.
Basically, that means they either had to use a password to login in order to sign something, or it can be tracked to their email address or other accounts where there is a reasonable surety that they are the person who actually signed it.
So if the program you use requires you to login or send a custom link to your email address for signature, your documents can be signed electronically.
What about the other 3 states?
Illinois, New York, and Washington
All three states that have not adopted the UETA have enacted other laws that are functionally the same as the UETA.
Illinois has adopted the Electronic Commerce Security Act (ECSA).
New York has adopted the Electronic Signatures and Records Act (ESRA).
Washington has enacted a section of its state code (RCS 19.360.020) that governs the use of Electronic Signatures and Records.
The bottom line is that all 3 of the states’ adopted acts and codes are nearly identical to the UETA and cover all stormwater-related documentation, as long as the signature is attributable to the person who signs it.
Join the 21st Century and Take Your Stormwater Program Digital
The point of all this is that I am amazed at the sheer number of people I talk to who are still using a SWPPP binder and manual inspections on their sites.
In this technological age, it’s just plain easier, faster, and more convenient (not to mention cheaper) to do it all digitally. There are lots of options out there.
I, of course, prefer our own software, ComplianceGO.
ComplianceGO is the best stormwater compliance management software on the market. It allows you to bring your entire program online and is available on your phone, tablet, or computer. Our system is fully compliant with electronic signature laws and comes packed full of patent-pending features you won’t find anywhere else.
If you want to learn more, visit us at www.compliancego.com