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Pretreatment of Industrial Wastewater

bulletGeneral description
bulletDownload the current copy of Pretreatment Bytes the Office of Water Management's publication.
bulletFrequently Asked Questions
bullet Chemical Precipitation - explained
bullet Essentials of ion exchange
bulletNew regulations!
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General Description of the National Pretreatment Program

The National Pretreatment Program is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality. The program is designed to reduce the level of pollutants discharged by industry and other non-domestic wastewater sources into municipal sewer systems, and thereby, reduce the amount of pollutants released into the environment through wastewater. The objectives of the program are to protect the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) from pollutants that may interfere with plant operation to prevent pollutants that may pass through untreated from being introduced into the POTW, and to improve opportunities for the POTW to reuse wastewater and sludges that are generated. The term "pretreatment" refers to the requirement that nondomestic sources discharging wastewater to POTWs control their discharges, and meet limits established by EPA, the State or local authority on the amount of pollutants allowed to be discharged. The control of the pollutants may necessitate treatment prior to discharge to the POTW (therefore the term "pretreatment"). Limits may be met by the nondomestic source through pollution prevention techniques (product substitution recycle and reuse of materials) or treatment of the wastewater.

Program objectives are:

To prevent industrial facilities' pollutant discharges from passing through municipal wastewater treatment plants untreated;

To protect treatment plants from the threat posed by untreated industrial wastewater, including explosion, fire, and interference with the treatment process; and

To improve the quality of effluents and sludges so that they can be used for beneficial purposes.

There are more than 1500 publicly owned treatment works that are required to implement local Pretreatment programs. By reducing the level of pollutants discharged by industry into municipal sewage systems, the program ensures the protection of America's multi-billion dollar public investment in treatment infrastructure.

Pretreatment Facts:

REGULATORY PROVISIONS

General PT Regulations (40 CFR Part 403)

--Objectives: prevent pass through and interference (including preventing interference with sludge use and disposal); promote beneficial re-use of effluents and sludges. (See 403.2)
--National prohibited discharge standards: temperature, pH, explosive, etc. (See 403.5)
--Application of national categorical pretreatment standards (See 403.6)
--Requirements for State and local Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) programs (See 403.8(f) and 403.10)
--Reporting requirements for POTWs and Industrial Users (IU) (See 403.12)
--Other requirements (e.g., FDF variances, net/gross adjustments) (See 403.13 -403.17)
--Categorical Pretreatment Standards (40 CFR Parts 405 - 471)

PROGRAM STATUS

--31 of 42 NPDES States have approved Pretreatment programs.
--Approximately 1600 POTWs are required to implement Pretreatment programs.
--Pretreatment POTWs receive 80% of national wastewater flow (~ 30 billion gals/day).
--An estimated 270,000 Industrial Users (IUs) discharge to POTWs, of which there are 31,842 Significant Industrial Users (SIUs); 14,914 of the SIUs are subject to categorical standards; 16,928 of the remaining SIUs are defined by one of the following criteria: 25,000 gallons per day process flow; 5% of hydraulic or organic flow of POTW; reasonable potential to cause pass through or interference.

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Industrial Pretreatment - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the National Pretreatment Program?

A: The National Pretreatment Program is designed to reduce the amount of pollutants discharged by industry and other non-domestic wastewater sources into municipal sewer systems, and thereby, reduce the amount of pollutants released into the environment from publicly owned wastewater treatment plants. The program is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality. The objectives of the program are to protect the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) or municipal wastewater treatment facility from pollutants that may interfere with plant operation or pass through the plant untreated and to improve opportunities for the POTW to reuse treated wastewater and sludges (biosolids) that are generated. The term "pretreatment" refers to pollutant control requirements for nondomestic sources discharging wastewater to sewer systems that are connected to POTWs. Limits on the amount of pollutants allowed to be discharged are established by EPA, the State, or the local authority. Pretreatment limits may be met by the industry through pollution prevention (e.g., production substitution, recycling and reuse of materials) or treatment of the wastewater.

Q: Under what Statutory Authority is the Pretreatment Program Administered?

A: The National Pretreatment Program's authority comes from section 307 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (more commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act). The federal government's role in pretreatment began with the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The Act called for EPA to develop national pretreatment standards to control industrial discharges into sewerage systems.

Q: Are there any prescribed National Standards for Pretreatment?

A: There are two sets of standards: "categorical Pretreatment Standards" and "Prohibited Discharge Standards." These are uniform national requirements which restrict the level of pollutants that may be discharged by nondomestic sources to sanitary sewer systems. All POTWs that are required to implement a Pretreatment Program must enforce the federal standards.

Q: What are Categorical Pretreatment Standards?

A: These are technology-based limitations on pollutant discharges to POTWs promulgated by EPA in accordance with Section 307 of the Clean water Act that apply to specified process wastewaters of particular industrial categories [see 40 CFR 403.6 and 40 CFR Parts 405- 471]

Q: What are Prohibited Discharge Standards?

A: These are standards that prohibit the discharge of wastes that pass through or interfere with POTW operations (including sludge management). These are the general prohibitions. There are also specific prohibitions that prohibit the discharge from all nondomestic sources certain types of wastes that 1) create a fire or explosion hazard in the collection system or treatment plant, 2) are corrosive , including any discharge with a pH less than 5.0, unless the POTW is specifically designed to handle such wastes, 3) are solid or viscous pollutants in amounts that will obstruct the flow in the collection system and treatment plant, resulting in interference with operations, 4) any pollutant discharged in quantities sufficient to interfere with POTW operations, and 5) discharges with temperatures above 140 F (40 C) when they reach the treatment plant, or hot enough to interfere with biological processes.

Q: When were the federal regulations governing pretreatment program requirements first promulgated and where can I find them?

A: The General Pretreatment Regulations were originally published in 1978, and have been updated several times (the latest changes were made on July 17, 1997) and can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations in 40 CFR Part 403.

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New Regulations - Proposed and Final

Federal Register: January 13, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 8)] [Page 2279-2357]
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency
Affects: 40 CFR Part 437
Subject: Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards, and New Source
Performance Standards for the Centralized Waste Treatment Point Source
Category; Proposed Rule
ACTION: Proposed rule and notice of availability of new information.
SUMMARY:This proposal represents the Agency's second look at Clean Water Act national effluent limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards--first proposed in January 1995--for wastewater discharges from centralized waste treatment facilities. The proposed regulation would establish technology-based effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for wastewater discharges associated with the operation of
new and existing centralized waste treatment facilities which accept hazardous or non-hazardous industrial wastes, wastewater, and/or used material from off-site for treatment and/or materials recovery. Compliance with this regulation is expected to reduce the discharge of pollutants by at least 14.3 million pounds per year of conventional pollutants and 4.1 million pounds per year of toxic and non-conventional pollutants and cost an estimated $27.8 million ($1997) on an annual basis. EPA has estimated that the annual benefits of the proposal would range from $5.3 million to $15.9 million ($1997).
DATES: EPA must receive comments on the proposal by midnight of March 15, 1999. EPA will present an assessment of its 1998 characterization sampling of non-hazardous oil treatment and recovery facilities, and conduct a public hearing on pretreatment standards on February 18, 1999 from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to, Ms. Jan Matuszko, Office of Water, Engineering and Analysis Division (4303), U.S. EPA, 401 M St. SW, Washington, DC 20460. Please submit any references cited in your comments. EPA requests an original and three copies of your comments and enclosures (including references). Commenters who want EPA to acknowledge receipt of their comments should enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. No facsimiles (faxes) will be accepted. For
additional information on how to submit electronic comments see ``SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, How to Submit Comments.'' EPA will present an assessment of its 1998 characterization sampling of non-hazardous oil treatment and recovery facilities, and conduct a public hearing on pretreatment standards in EPA's Auditorium, Waterside Mall, 401 M St. SW, Washington, DC. Persons wishing to present formal comments at the public hearing should contact Mr. Timothy Connor before the hearing and should have a written copy for submittal. The public record for this proposed rulemaking has been established under docket number W-98-21 and is located in the Water Docket East Tower Basement, 401 M St. SW, Washington, DC 20460. The record is available for inspection from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. For access to the docket materials, call (202) 260-3027 to schedule an appointment. You may have to pay a reasonable fee for copying.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical information concerning
today's proposed rule, contact Ms. Jan Matuszko at (202) 260-9126 or Mr. Timothy Connor at (202) 260-3164. For economic information contact Dr. William Wheeler at (202) 260-7905.

Download a copy of the proposal as ASCII text (578k), or as a PDF file (546k) here

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Other Information

Catalog of EPA Publications for Industrial Pretreatment

Industrial Pretreatment - Contacts

EPA Headquarters

EPA Regional and State Pretreatment Coordinators

Pretreatment Library

 

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