Surface Water Permit Programs

The Division of Surface Water administers three main permit programs for the protection of Ohio's water resources:

  1. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
  2. Permit to Install Program
  3. 401 Certification & Isolated Wetland Program

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Ohio EPA offers the Permit Wizard as a tool to assist small- to medium-sized businesses determine their permit requirements.  Also see pages 29-35 of the Ohio EPA Guide to Environmental Permitting in Ohio.


National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requires a permit for all facilities discharging pollutants from a point source to a water of the state. Pollutants are broadly defined as any type of industrial, municipal or agricultural wastewater. Examples of point sources are publicly owned treatment works, industrial facilities and urban runoff. See Ohio NPDES Permit Naming Protocol for permit naming convention. 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.
  • Storm Water - Storm water discharge is generated by runoff from impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops. Some storm water discharges are considered point sources and require coverage by an NPDES permit.
  • 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.

Permit to Install Program

A Permit-to-Install (PTI) is needed for any installation or modification of a wastewater treatment, conveyance or disposal system. Sanitary sewer extension, wastewater treatment plant construction, onsite sewage treatment systems installation, and sewage holding tank installation are examples of projects that may require a PTI.  

401 Certification & Isolated Wetland Program

The 401 Certification and Isolated Wetland Program evaluates projects that physically impact a stream, lake or wetland. Examples of physical impact include the dredging, filling or relocation of a water resource.