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National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
What is pretreatment?
Industrial wastewater is often contaminated by a variety of harmful substances (such as industrial process by-products, like copper, lead, nickel, and other heavy metals). Because sewage collection and treatment systems are not designed to remove these substances, industrial wastes can damage sewers and interfere with the operation of treatment plants; pass through the systems untreated, resulting in pollution of nearby waters; and increase the costs and environmental risks of sludge management. The practice of removing pollutants from industrial wastewaters before they are discharged into municipal sewage treatment systems is known as "pretreatment." In focusing on industrial sources, pretreatment differs from pollution prevention, which focuses on residential and commercial sources.
The General Pretreatment Regulations at 40 CFR 403.1 et seq. establish the responsibilities of government agencies, industries, and the public to implement pretreatment standards to control industrial pollutants that may pass through or interfere with publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) or contaminate sewage sludge.
What are pretreatment requirements?
In 1978, U.S. EPA promulgated extensive regulations requiring many POTWs to develop and implement local pretreatment programs. U.S. EPA delegated the responsibility to oversee these pretreatment programs to the State Water Board and Regional Water Boards in 1989. As a result, the State and Regional Water Boards are responsible for the review and approval of new and modified POTW pretreatment programs. The NPDES permits for these POTWs spell out the pretreatment program monitoring and reporting requirements.
POTWs are required to have pretreatment programs when their total design flows are greater than five million gallons per day (5 mgd) and they receive industrial pollutants that could pass through or interfere with POTW operations. POTWs with smaller flows (5 mgd or less) may also be required to implement a pretreatment program if they receive industrial waste and pretreatment is warranted.
What are the State Water Board responsibilities?
The State Water Board is responsible for supporting and providing general oversight of the Regional Water Boards’ management of the pretreatment programs in California. This responsibility includes the following:
- Providing general oversight of the pretreatment program in California;
- Providing technical and legal assistance to Regional Water Boards’ staff, POTWs, and industrial users;
- Developing and maintaining a data management system;
- Providing information to USEPA and other organizations as required and/or requested; and
- Reviewing and ruling on petitions for review of Regional Water Board decisions.
What are the Regional Water Boards’ responsibilities?
The Regional Water Board's pretreatment program includes pretreatment compliance audits and inspections, annual and semiannual report reviews, program modifications, and enforcement activities.
Pretreatment compliance inspections verify the compliance status of POTWs, focusing on the POTW's own compliance monitoring and enforcement activities. Pretreatment compliance audits involve a comprehensive review of all elements of a POTW's pretreatment program. Audits take place every five years. Inspections usually occur every year, except when an audit is scheduled.
What agencies have been recognized for pretreatment excellence?
Since 1989, the USEPA has recognized pretreatment excellence through its annual Pretreatment Program Excellence Awards. Many agencies have received the award. Applications for future awards are available from the USEPA.
How can I get more information?
For more information about pretreatment, see Contacts.
Federal, State, and Regional Information on Pretreatment
- USEPA Pretreatment Program
- General Pretreatment Regulations (40 CFR Part 403)
- Streamlining Rule
- USEPA Pretreatment Streamlining Rule Fact Sheet
- USEPA Pretreatment Streamlining Rule Fact Sheet 2.0
- USEPA Memorandum on New Source Dates for Direct and Indirect Dischargers
- USEPA Final 2008 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan
- USEPA Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Water
- California’s Perspective on Pretreatment
- Information on Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Program in California
- Example of Nashville FOG Management Policy
- USEPA Fact Sheet on Controlling FOG discharges from Food Service Establishments
- Standard Identification Classification (SIC) Codes
- Water Environment Federation (WEF) Pretreatment Programs
- WEF Pretreatment Links
- WEF Pretreatment Publications
January 21-23, 2009 Pretreatment Conference
- Introductory Pretreatment Workshop
- National Pretreatment Program Update: Streamlining Progress and National Update
- Industrial User Classification
- Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Management and Control Program
- Fog Numerical Limits, Sampling and Additives
- CMOM - Commercial and Residential FOG, Corrosion, and Sewer Maintenance Personnel and Pretreatment Personnel Communication
- Grease Interceptor and Grease Trap Certification Class
- Performance Indicators
- Development of Local Limits
- Chapter 1 - Section I: Industrial User Permits
- Sampling and Monitoring
- Industrial User Inspections
- Meat, Food, and Dairy Processing Industry - Waste Streams and Pollution Prevention
- State Water Board
Email Russell Norman or phone 916 323-5598
- Regional Water Boards Map
Regional Water Board Contact(s) Phone Region 1 - North Coast Lisa Bernard
Region 2 - San Francisco Bay Michael Chee 510 622-2333 Region 3 - Central Coast Sheila Soderberg 805 549-3592 Region 4 - Los Angeles Cris Morris 213 620-2083 Region 5(F) - Central Valley (Fresno Office) Anthony Toto 559 445-6278 Region 5(R) - Central Valley (Redding Office) Stacy Gotham 530 224-4993 Region 5(S) - Central Valley (Sacramento Office) Wendy Wyels
916 464-4835 Region 6 - Lahontan Alan Miller 530 542-5430 Region 7 - Colorado River Basin John Camona 760 340-4521 Region 8 - Santa Ana Najah Amin 951 320-6362 Region 9 - San Diego Joann Lim 619-521-3362