National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Overview

river system

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program was created by Section 402 of the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act . In 1975, the Bureau of Water received authority from the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) to administer the NPDES Permit Program in SC. The Bureau is responsible for the permitting, compliance, monitoring, and enforcement activities of the program.

Persons with point source discharges to surface waters are required to have NPDES permits. Typical regulated point source discharges are:

  • Discharges from wastewater treatment systems owned by municipalities, industries, private utilities, State and Federal government, etc.;
  • Discharges such as cooling water, boiler blow down, etc.;
  • Stormwater discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s);
  • Stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity; and
  • Stormwater dischargers from Construction Sites.

discharge with flap gate

While certain stormwater discharges are regulated under the NPDES Permit Program, the stormwater portion of the NPDES Permit Program is not presented here. Rather, NPDES Stormwater is presented on the Bureau's NPDES Stormwater Program Web page.

A discharger can either be issued an individual NPDES permit or, if an applicable General Permit is available, be granted coverage under a General Permit. All draft permits, individual and general, are public noticed. Coverage under a General Permit is not public noticed. When there is sufficient public interest or significant issues, a public hearing will be held prior to a final permit decision.

To ensure protection of water quality, NPDES permits contain:

Requirements on sludge disposal and use, groundwater monitoring, surface water monitoring, municipal pretreatment programs, etc. may also be included in NPDES Permits.

The "Water Facilities Permitting Division" is responsible for issuing NPDES permits for industrial facilities, federal facilities, municipalities, state owned facilities, commercial facilities, and private non-industrial systems. The NPDES Permit Program, the Wastewater Construction Permit Program , the Pretreatment Program , the Satellite Sewer System Program , the Land Application System Permit Program , and the Sludge Program are integrated into a comprehensive water pollution control program on transportation, treatment, and disposal or use of wastewater and sludge.

Wastewater facilities are monitored by the EA Regional Offices for compliance with their NPDES permits. Dischargers are assisted by the Bureau and EA Regional Offices in achieving and maintaining compliance with their permits. Enforcement actions are used by the Bureau when necessary to attain compliance with permits, water quality standards, and State and Federal Laws and Regulations.





Outreach and Education

Bureau and Regional Staff are available to give talks and presentations on the different aspects of the NPDES Program. Please send an E-mail to one of the contacts listed above if you are interested in arranging a presentation for a group or class.

Related Topics

Bureau of Water