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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:
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):
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:
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.
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
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2251
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.