National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership

Created by the 1972 Federal Pollution Control Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program authorizes discharges from point sources to waters of United States. In addition to pipes, ditches, channels, tunnels, conduits, floating craft or containers, a “point source” also includes concentrated animal feeding operations, which are places where animals are confined and fed.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires wastewater dischargers to have a permit establishing pollution limits, and specifying monitoring and reporting requirements. Examples of regulated NPDES programs include:

Examples of point sources are publicly owned treatment works, industrial facilities and urban runoff. Ohio EPA administers the following NPDES programs:

  • Individual ‐ An individual NPDES permit is unique to a specific facility.
  • General ‐ A general NPDES permit covers facilities with similar operations and wastewater. A general permit is a potential alternative to an individual permit for facilities meeting certain eligibility criteria.
  • Pretreatment ‐ The pretreatment program regulates industrial facilities discharging wastewater to publicly owned treatment works.
  • Stormwater ‐ Stormwater discharge is generated by runoff from impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops.
  • Biosolids ‐ Biosolids are the nutrient‐rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage. Proper disposal of biosolids may require a permit.
  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation ‐ Livestock operations meeting certain criteria may require an NPDES permit.

NPDES permits may be sought for new discharges and at least every five years, permits for existing discharges must be reevaluated and renewed.

Additional Resources