40 CFR 122 NPDES Permit Program

General permit

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program addresses water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States. Created in 1972 by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program is authorized to state governments by EPA to perform many permitting, administrative, and enforcement aspects of the program.

Wastewater discharges from industrial sources may contain pollutants at levels that could affect the quality of receiving waters or interfere with publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) that receive those discharges. 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

Do you need to obtain a permit?  It depends on where you send your pollutants. If you discharge from a point source into the waters of the United States, you need an NPDES permit. If you discharge pollutants into a municipal sanitary sewer system, you do not need an NPDES permit, but need to ask the municipality or POTW about their permit requirements. If you discharge pollutants into a municipal storm sewer system, you may need a permit, or other discharge authorization, depending on what you discharge (prohibitions may apply). You should talk with the permitting authority‚Äôs Pretreatment Coordinator.


  • The Clean Water Act prohibits anybody from discharging "pollutants" through a "point source" into a "water of the United States" unless they have an NPDES permit. The permit will contain limits on what you can discharge, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not hurt water quality or people's health. In essence, the permit translates general requirements of the Clean Water Act into specific provisions tailored to the operations of each facility discharging pollutants.
  • Where can I obtain a permit?  NPDES permits are issued by states and POTWs that have obtained EPA approval to issue permits or by EPA Regions in states without such approval.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP)

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) have been regulated by the authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulations governing stormwater runoff. The federal requirements regarding stormwater runoff are codified under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations, found in Title 40, Part 122, Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 122.26).  Do you need one for your facility?  What is in an SWPPP? 

  • Identifies all potential sources of pollution which may reasonably be expected to affect the quality of storm water discharges from the construction site.
  • Describes practices to reduce pollutants in storm water discharges from construction sites. (We want to divert the clean water, and trap the dirty water)
  • Helps assure compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit (when the plan is designed for the individual site, and is fully implemented)
  • Provides inspection and reporting procedures

Cooling water intake

This rule covers roughly 1,065 existing facilities that are designed to withdraw at least 2 million gallons per day for cooling water. EPA estimates that 521 of these facilities are factories.  11% apply to the steel industry.  What are your options for this rule if it applies to your facility?  What species will be affected by your system?  What is in the rule:

  • The facilities are required to choose one of seven options to reduce mortality to fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Facilities that withdraw at least 125 million gallons per day must conduct studies to help their permitting authority determine whether and what site-specific controls, if any, would be required to further reduce mortality of aquatic organisms.
  • New units added to an existing facility are required to reduce mortality of aquatic organisms that achieves one of two alternatives under national standards.
  • EPA consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.