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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Table of Contents: Water Quality

Wastewater Treatment - Industrial and Municipal Facilities

Anyone discharging pollutants from a point source directly into the waters of the state must first obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from IDEM. This applies to municipal wastewater treatment plants or semi-public facilities treating sanitary wastewater, public water supplies, and industrial dischargers. The few exceptions to this requirement are listed below under Who May Not Need a NPDES Wastewater Discharge Permit. Note that each regulated industrial facility has control of its manufacturing process. IDEM encourages each industry to reduce the anticipated treatment needs and associated treatment options which likely will be required for compliance with the NPDES industrial discharge permit by performing pollution prevention.

NPDES permits can be either general or individual. A general permit, or permit-by-rule, is a "one size fits all" type of activity-specific permit, under which the applicant makes a public notification of their intention to operate within the limits of pre-set conditions, but for which there is no public comment period. Meanwhile, the permit conditions associated with a NPDES individual permit are tailored to the specific activities of the applicant, and any final permitting decision by IDEM is preceded by a 30-day public comment period.

There are three different types of applications for individual industrial NPDES permits:

  1. Process Wastewater from Existing Dischargers (Application form 2C [PDF]);
  2. Process Wastewater from New Sources and New Dischargers (Form 2D [PDF]); and,
  3. Non-Process Wastewater from New and Existing Dischargers, such as non-contact cooling water discharges - including cooling water discharges by those facilities ineligible for a Rule 8 general permit (Form 2E [PDF]).

There are two levels of industrial discharge permits: major and minor. Permits may be designated as being "major" if IDEM or U.S. EPA believes that the facility has a reasonable potential to discharge pollutants at a level which may cause harm to human health or aquatic life. U.S. EPA has developed a worksheet and protocol for determining whether discharges will qualify as major.

Dischargers holding an individual NPDES permit also remain eligible to operate under one or more general permits. One such general permit is the Rule 6 permit for storm water run-off associated with industrial activity. However, if a facility is ineligible for a Rule 6 general industrial storm water run-off permit, and must apply for an individual storm water permit
(Form 2F [PDF]), that storm water permit can be folded into the individual discharge permit. Similarly, those holding an individual NPDES permit may be eligible for a Rule 8 general permit allowing the point source discharge of non-contact cooling water. On the other hand, if it is determined that additives in the non-contact cooling water may exceed water quality standards, the applicant may be required to apply for a Non-process Wastewater individual NPDES permit using form 2E [PDF].

Some of the things an applicant must do to comply with IDEM's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System individual permit program include (but are not limited to):

  • Submit a complete application, including Identification of Potentially Affected Parties (form available on the IDEM Forms page) which may be affected by the issuance of the permit;
  • Pay a $50 NPDES application fee;
  • List contaminants anticipated to be found in the waste water;
  • Record and report sampling data as required by the permit; and,
  • Pay an annual operation fee ranging from $1000 for a major permit, plus flow fees up to $34, 800 for discharges of more than 1 million gallons per day and $400 for a minor permit plus flow fees.

Who May Not Need a NPDES Wastewater Discharge Permit

Below is a cursory listing of activities for which a NPDES wastewater discharge permit may not be required. These instances are more fully explained in Title 327 of the Indiana Administrative Code, Article 5, Rule 2, Section 4 (327 IAC 5-2-4 [PDF]). However, anyone unsure of whether these exemptions may apply to the activities they intend to undertake is advised to contact the IDEM OWQ Industrial NPDES Permit Section at one of the numbers listed below, or to file an application with IDEM, and let the agency make a case specific determination.

Those discharges which generally do not require a NPDES permit include:

  1. Persons discharging industrial wastewater into a sewer flowing to any publicly owned treatment works; however, industrial dischargers may need to have an Industrial Pretreatment Permit (application available on the IDEM Forms page) issued either by IDEM, or by one of the 46 Indiana municipalities with EPA-delegated pretreatment programs in place;
  2. Persons discharging to a privately owned treatment works;
  3. Agriculturally-related non-point-source discharges such as run-off from croplands, pastures, orchards, forests or rangelands or return flows from irrigation facilities;
  4. Discharges of waste water from ships or other waterborne vessels being used for transportation. However, the exclusion does not apply to the overboard discharge of rubbish or garbage, nor to dischargers from vessels being used as an energy or mining facility, as a storage facility, a seafood processing facility, or any vessel which is secured to the bottom for the purpose of mineral or oil exploration or development;
  5. Discharges of dredge or fill material, placement of which into the waters of the state, as part of the waters of the United States, is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the wetland protection provisions of the Clean Water Act (Section 404), unless those discharges contain toxic pollutants;
  6. Discharge by underground injection of salt or sulfur bearing wastewater and waste liquids associated with the properly permitted recovery of oil and natural gas;
  7. Discharges into deep injection wells. Permits for deep well injection are issued by the U.S. EPA Region 5 Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. To contact, them use U.S. EPA UIC's online form or call 312/886-1492.

What to Expect

IDEM is allotted 270 days to review a new major individual NPDES permit application and 180 days to review an application for a new individual minor NPDES permit. Both major and minor draft permits are subject to a 30 day public notice period.

Frequently applicants also must build wastewater treatment facilities to bring wastewater within the NPDES permit limits prior to discharge. In fact, the construction of any new pollution control/wastewater treatment or pretreatment facility requires a Wastewater Facilities Construction Permit. On the other hand, modifications to existing pollution control/wastewater treatment or pretreatment facilities and sewer line extension projects or may not require a construction permit.

Changing Ownership/ Transferring

An existing individual NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit may be transferred to a new owner. Under 327 IAC 5-2-6(c) [PDF], the current permittee (permit holder) must notify the IDEM Office of Water Quality (OWQ) at least 30 days in advance of the transfer. The current and new owners also must provide to OWQ a written agreement that lists the specific date for transferring responsibility for compliance with the conditions of the permit from the current permittee, to the new owner (transferee). In addition, the transferee must certify his or her intent to continue operations without making any changes to the facility or its processes that would significantly change the nature or quantities of pollutants discharged. If all these conditions are met, IDEM may simply transfer the permit to the transferee, who may continue to operate the facility under the existing permit.

However, if a facility wishing to transfer a NPDES permit to a new owner fails to notify IDEM at least 30 days in advance of the transfer, then under 327 IAC 5-2-16(c)(1), IDEM may not simply transfer the permit, but must instead modify and reissue the permit. The reissuance of the permit, in turn, requires that the permit be placed on public notice for 30 days, and may not be issued to the new owner until the completion of that 30-day public notice process. Hence, any operation of the facility by the transferee prior to the reissuance of the permit would constitute operating without a permit and therefore, be subject to enforcement action.

If, on the other hand, the transferee does intend to make changes that will alter the nature or quantities of pollutants to be discharged, then he or she must first submit an application seeking to modify the newly transferred permit to allow for such changes. The transferee will not be allowed to make the changes until the permit has been modified, or revoked and reissued, to address the changes to the nature and quantity of the discharge.

If only the name, but not the operator or ownership, of a company is to be changed, send a letter with the new company name and contact person to:

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Office of Water Quality
Mail Code 65-42 IGCN 1255
100 North
Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2251

For Additional Information

To obtain additional information regarding discharging directly to the waters of the state under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System individual permit visit the IDEM Office of Water Quality Web site and view the following water NPDES permitting program overviews:

Questions about municipal wastewater permitting issues may be directed to IDEM's Office of Water Quality at (800) 451-6027, ext. 3-0469. Questions about industrial waste water permitting issues may be directed to (800) 451-6027, ext. 2-8704.