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Under the Clean Water Act, Congress empowers the EPA to create regulations for the continued protection of our country’s water.  Polluted water can be detrimental to wildlife and harmful for human consumption.  Industries must be accountable for their involvement in upholding to the EPA’s regulations.

The EPA sets specific guidelines to protect water supplies.  This is particularly of interest for any industries that have wastewater discharge.  The water discharged from an industrial facility is called “effluent”.  This effluent water typically contains chemicals or pollutants on the surface of the water.   

Because each industry will have different chemicals, the EPA establishes guidelines specific to certain industries.  These guidelines provide limits on the pollutants each particular industry can discharge.  To assist in industry adherence to these regulations, permits are granted to those industries that will discharge into a point source.  

Permits are not required for discharge into a municipal sewer system.  However, these industries are still responsible for adhering to the levels of control and pretreatment of the water.  The EPA has developed a Code of Federal Regulations by category of industries.  Each of these codes defines the processes that involve the water pollutants and provide the industry with pollutant limitations.  For example, CFR 434 provides daily and 30-day limits on the amount of iron in the wastewater of coal mining processes.

It is each industry’s responsibility to understand and adhere to the EPA’s regulations.   To assist industries in their commitment to keeping our water clean and safe, the EPA has established Compliance Assistance Centers which offers pollution prevention techniques.  For more information on the Effluent Guidelines please visit the EPA article.


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