Water quality is one of the most mature regulatory programs at both the state and Federal levels. Water quality regulations are also very strict and can result in very expensive fines and penalties for companies who are found in violation of these laws.
Whether your business discharges process water, sanitary wastewater, or only stormwater, our environmental professionals can explain in clear terms the requirements that may apply, and the exemptions that are available. Certain water quality rules apply to specific industry sectors while some rules apply to all industry sectors. Industrial discharges to both surface water bodies and to sanitary sewers must meet established limits.
Discharges to Surface Water Bodies
Discharges to surface water bodies must be permitted through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES permitting program establishes discharge limits and conditions for industrial and commercial sources with specific limitations based on the type of facility/activity generating the discharge. An NPDES permit is typically a license for a facility to discharge a specified amount of a pollutant into a receiving water under certain conditions.
Once a facility submits the appropriate application(s), the permitting authority develops a permit for that particular facility based on the information contained in the permit application (e.g., type of activity, nature of discharge, receiving water quality). The authority issues the permit to the facility for a specific time period (not to exceed five years) with a requirement that the facility reapply prior to the expiration date.
The NPDES permit specifies monthly discharge sampling and analytical requirements. The permitting authority typically requires monthly discharge monitoring reports detailing the sample results and volume of water discharged.
Discharges to Publicly-Owned Treatment Works
Discharges to Publicly-Owned Treatment Works (POTW) do not require an NPDES permit but may require a permit from the POTW facility. Wastewater discharges from industrial and commercial sources may contain pollutants at levels that could overwhelm or interfere with operation of POTW that receives those discharges. The POTW must be able to process wastewaters such that it remains in compliance with its NPDES permit. POTW permit requirements vary and not all discharges require a permit. However, discharges that adversely impact the operation of a POTW can result in strict EPA enforcement action.