The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. The act established the goals of eliminating releases of high amounts of toxic substances into water, eliminating additional pollution by 1985, and ensuring that surface waters would meet standards necessary for human sports and recreation by 1983.
Permit programs are among the basic tools the partnership of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) uses to regulate wastewater discharges to Illinois streams and lakes. They provide facility owners and the public with a discharge specific interpretation of the law and regulations. They provide a specific set of effluent limits, a monitoring schedule and a reporting schedule. Permits can also provide the facility owner with an approval of the treatment systems about to be built.
The Bureau of Water operates two separate permit programs, the NPDES permit program and the state construction/operating permit program.
Click here for more information on Water Pollution Control from IEPA's website.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
The 1972 Clean Water Act introduced the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which is a permit system for regulating point sources of pollution. Point sources include:
industrial facilities (including manufacturing, mining, oil and gas extraction, and service industries)
municipal governments and other government facilities (such as military bases), and
some agricultural facilities, such as animal feedlots.
Point sources may not discharge pollutants to surface waters without a permit from the NPDES.
The Clean Water Act Amendments of 1987 established the NPDES stormwater program. The act called for implementation in two phases; Phase I addressed the most significant sources of pollution in stormwater runoff. Phase I of the NPDES stormwater program began in 1990 and applied to large and medium municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) and 11 industrial categories including construction sites disturbing five acres of land or more.
NPDES Phase II
Phase II of the NPDES Stormwater Program began in March 2003 and applies to additional MS4s and construction sites disturbing equal to or greater than one but less than five acres of land. Phase II also expands the industrial "no exposure" exemption covered under NPDES Phase I. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) is in charge of implementing both phases of the NPDES Stormwater Program. The Phase II regulations were published in the December 8, 1999, Federal Register. Summary of December 8, 1999, Stormwater Phase II Rule:
Municipalities located in urban areas as defined by the Census Bureau are required to obtain NPDES permit coverage for discharges from their municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). Municipalities located outside of urbanized areas may need to comply within 180 days notice or as determined by the NPDES Permitting Authority.
Beginning on March 10, 2003, construction sites that disturb one acre or more are required to have coverage under the NPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from construction site activities.
Municipalities under 100,000 population will no longer be exempt from the construction site stormwater requirements and the industrial stormwater requirements effective March 10, 2003. (WWTPs 1.0 mgd or more will need a General Stormwater Permit for Industrial Activities)
Definition of industrial stormwater has been revised to expand the "no-exposure" exemption to all industrial categories except construction.
· Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and authorized tribes are required to develop lists of impaired waters. These are waters that are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet the water quality standards set by states, territories, or authorized tribes. The law requires that these jurisdictions establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop TMDLs for these waters. A Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards.
· In response to concerns about the East & West Branch DuPage River TMDLs and the Salt Creek TMDL, a local group of communities, POTWs, and environmental organizations have come together to better determine the stressors to the aquatic systems through a long term water quality monitoring program and develop and implement viable remediation projects. The DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup (DRSCW) is committed to producing comprehensive data sets for local watersheds in order to determine and resolve priority stressors to local aquatic systems. The organization seeks to implement targeted watershed activities that resolve priority waterway problems efficiently and cost effectively.