United States
                    Environmental Protection
                    Agency
Office of Water
Mail Code 4303
EPA-821-F-93-005
November, 1993
                    FACT  SHEET
        EFFLUENT  GUIDELINES:     PROTECTING   OUR   NATION'S
        WATERS   FROM  INDUSTRIAL   DISCHARGES
 BACKGROUND

       In 1972 Congress established, as part of the Clean Water Act, a landmark program to control
 the discharge of pollutants from industries into the waters of the United States. This program, which
 is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is made up of two complementary
 app.udches  for ensuring the protection of our valuable  water resources: technology-based effluent
 guidelines and water quality-based controls.

       The technology-based effluent guidelines set national standards for wastewater discharges by
 regulated industries.  The guidelines apply to effluent discharged by these industries, whether they
 discharge directly into surface waters or indirectly into sewage treatment plants.  Each guideline is
 written for a specific industry and  it includes limits on pollutants that are typically discharged by that
 industry.  The guidelines, and the pollutant levels that they contain, are based on the best technology
 that is economically achievable by  the regulated industry.  Water quality-based controls are developed
 by individual states for watersheds when more stringent measures are needed to protect water quality
 in specific areas.

       EPA has developed effluent  guidelines for  many industries, regulating over fifty industrial
 categories to date.  These are industries such as oil and gas extraction, iron and steel manufacturing,
 and organic chemical manufacturing.   Each guideline  regulates conventional pollutants such as oil and
 suspended solids, toxic pollutants  (like lead and benzene); and nonconventional pollutants (including
 many pesticides).  All guidelines are developed by EPA with the help of scientists, the industries under
 consideration, environmental groups, and other interested parties.
DEVELOPING GUIDELINES

       Developing a guideline for an industry
is  a complex process.  It begins with EPA
conducting an extensive study of the industry,
its production processes, how it incorporates
pollution   prevention   into  production
processes, how material is reused and recycled,
and  the wastewater  treatment technologies
that are in  place in the  industry. A vastamount
of  information  related  to   manufacturing
processes, production  costs, waste reduction,
and  pollution  treatment  technologies  is
assessed and wastewater samples from many
facilities are  analyzed  to determine the kinds
and amounts of pollutants that are discharged.

       After  extensive   analysis  of  all
production and process data, EPAprepares an
economic analysis to help assess the potential
impact of  a  guideline.  This combination  of
  economic,  engineering,  and  wastewater
  databases  enables EPA to develop guideline
  options for each  industrial  category being
  considered.

  THE REGULATION PROCESS

        The Clean Water Act requires EPA to
  publish effluent guidelines  for direct  and
  indirect industrial dischargers.  It also provides
  specific factors  that EPA is to consider in
  developing guidelines.

        Each   guideline  includes  specific
  pollutant limits that  are based on process and
  treatment  technology that is in use in the
  industry.

  * For  facilities that  discharge  conventional
  pollutants  directly  to surface waters, these
  limits  are  called Best  Practicable  Control

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 Technology  (BPT)  and  Best Conventional
 Pollutant Control Technology (BCT).
FUTURE ACTIVITIES
    For dischargers that discharge toxic  and
 nonconventional pollutants directly to surface
 waters, these limits are called Best Available
 Technology Economically Achievable (BAT).

 *  For new sources, these limits are called New
 Source Performance Standards (NSPS).

       Controls for indirect dischargers  to
 municipal  sewage treatment systems, are
 different in some aspects than those for direct
 dischargers to surface water.  Conventional
 pollutants are considered compatible with the
 operation of a municipal sewage treatment
 plant; therefore, indirect dischargers are not
 subject to controls for conventional pollutants.
 For EPA to establish limits for toxic pollutants,
 it  must show that a pollutant would "pass
 through" the municipal treatment system  If it
 will, EPA includes limits on those pollutants for
 indirect dischargers.

       For  each  regulated industry,  EPA
 defines the  levels  of  pollutants  that are
 technically and economically achievable, and
 describes  how these levels can be met and  at
 what  cost.   The  industry may use  any
 technology that  allows  it to   meet  the
 performance  levels   established  by  the
 guideline.

       The  most suitable guideline option  is
 published  in  the  Federal   Register  as  a
 proposed  regulation for public  review  and
 comment.  It may contain a specific request for
 comments on controversial or difficult issues.
 The public comment period, an integral part of
 the guidelines development process, gives all
 interested parties the opportunity to provide
 support or opposition for the proposal  and
 invites them to submit constructive  comments
 and additional information.    At the close of
the comment period,  EPA  evaluates  ail the
comments and again reviews the alternative
options.

       In  some cases the comments are so
 substantial that EPA decides  on further study
 or evaluation to assist in the  final decision.  If
this is the  case, EPA may resludy the  industry
 and re-propose the regulation-following the
 same  procedures that were followed originally.

       After consideration of the comments
 and any subsequent research or analysis, the
final guideline is published as a regulation in the
 Federal  Register.    The regulated  industry
generally has three years to comply with the
 new regulations.
       The 1987 Amendments to the Clean
Water Act require EPA to publish a biennial
plan to review and  revise existing guidelines.
It also requires EPA to develop new guidlines
for dischargers  cf  tcxic or nonconventional
pollutants.    As   wastewater  treatment
technologies continue  to advance,  earlier
guidelines will be revised to take into account
improved   treatment   methods    and
opportunities for pollution prevention.   In
addition,  national concern  will focus on  new
pollutants, more stringent discharge limits, and
industries  not presently regulated.

       EPA  has  developed  an  effective
national effluent guidelines program  that is
widely recognized and used by other countries.
This program has been essential to meeting the
commitment that  the  Clean  Water  Act
represents: the protection of our nation's
water.

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