NPDES General Permits

Note: For general permits not in the NPDES program, use these links:


Background

Whenever a municipality, industry, or other entity wishes to discharge water to a surface water of the State, they must first obtain a permit from the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water (DSW). This permit is called a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. NPDES permits regulate wastewater discharges by limiting the quantities of pollutants to be discharged and imposing monitoring requirements and other conditions. The limits and/or requirements in the permit help ensure compliance with Ohio's Water Quality Standards and Federal Regulations, all of which were written to protect public health and the aquatic environment.

In August of 1992, the U.S. EPA delegated to Ohio EPA the authority to issue general NPDES permits. Ohio law regarding general permits (Ohio Revised Code Section 6111.035) was originally written to apply to coal mining and reclamation activities. It was revised to expand the scope of general permits to storm water discharges and then, in 1993, to include wastewater discharges with a de minimis impact on the receiving stream. Rules addressing the general NPDES permit program are in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-38. DSW is in the process of developing and issuing general permits for a variety of discharges in order to increase efficiency and to help make it easier for various dischargers to obtain an NPDES permit.


Types of Permits

There are two types of NPDES permits; individual and general. An individual NPDES permit is unique to each facility. The limitations and requirements in an individual permit are based on the facility's operations, type and amount of discharge, and receiving stream, among other factors. Because some of the individual permits contain very similar or, in many cases, identical effluent limitations and requirements, their contents have been compiled into one permit that can be applied to certain categories of discharges. This is a general permit.

A general permit is one permit that covers facilities that have similar operations and type of discharge. A general NPDES permit is a potential alternative to an individual NPDES permit and affords coverage to new and existing dischargers that meet the eligibility criteria given in the general permit. General permits are used to cover discharges that will have a minimal affect on the environment.


Advantages of a General Permit

There are several advantages to obtaining coverage under a general NPDES permit instead of an individual NPDES permit, such as:simplified one-page application form, the one-page application form doesn't require the inclusion of effluent data, Ohio EPA processing time is reduced, allowing quicker review time, permit consistency with other similar facilities, permit requirements are available prior to applying, and the annual discharge fee may not apply.