Description of Initiative:
EPermitting is Missouri’s customized online web application that allows citizens to apply, pay for, and receive general stormwater construction permits from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). General stormwater construction permits are the most common permit issued by the MDNR; in some years more than 1,500 have been issued. Applications for these permits were formerly sent to five regional MDNR offices where they were processed manually using procedures unique to each office. Manual processing included verifying application completeness, processing the application fee, data entry into multiple databases, and manually typing each permit. Permit processing also included the crucial step of identifying the watersheds and water bodies potentially impacted by the construction activity. This manual process typically took several days to a few weeks. Because this is the most common permit issued by the MDNR, and because applicants had to wait to commence construction until the permit was completed, the MDNR sought more efficient ways to issue these permits.
The new ePermitting system allows citizens to obtain a valid stormwater construction general permit from the comfort of their home or office in a matter of minutes. It guides users through the application process, including an interactive GIS tool that allows applicants to draw a polygon representing the construction area on a customized map. The system processes the application fee and issues the final permit. Users can immediately print their permit and supporting materials, including a map of their construction area. ePermitting also directly interfaces with the MDNR’s fees and NPDES databases, eliminating the need for manual and duplicative data entry.
The most unique feature of ePermitting is its interactive GIS component. User-friendly tools enable applicants to draw the area of land disturbance on a map. The built-in GIS application calculates the acreage that will be disturbed, determines the receiving stream and classified waterbodies downstream of the construction activity, and identifies the beneficial uses of those waterbodies. All of this occurs within a matter of minutes.
Results to Date:
After a two month phase-in beginning in June 2012, the MDNR now requires all applicants to use ePermitting to obtain general stormwater construction permits. Between June 2012 and May 2013, 854 permits were issued through ePermitting. Based on feedback from applicants, the average time from initial log on to the system to printing a permit was less than one hour. Based on an average of 6 days per application under the old process, this translates to a significant time savings for MDNR’s applicants. MDNR staff time savings is also significant, allowing the MDNR to direct staff to activities more beneficial to human health and the environment. Redirection of staff away from paper processing to more field work, inspections, and compliance assistance has yielded beneficial environmental results.
IT Policy Director
Missouri Department of Natural Resources