September 2021
EPA 821-F-21-003
Preliminary Effluent Guidelines
Program Plan 15
EPA has released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines
Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), which describes
analyses, studies, and rulemakings related to effluent
limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards
(ELGs). ELGs are national, technology-based
regulations developed to control industrial wastewater
discharges to surface waters and into publicly owned
treatment works. ELGs are intended to represent the
greatest pollutant reductions that are economically
achievable for an industry. Clean Water Act section
304(m) requires EPA to biennially publish a plan for
new and revised ELGs, after public review and comment. Members of the public may submit
comments on the contents of Preliminary Plan 15 for 30 days following publication in the
Federal Register.
Preliminary Plan 15 announces the status of EPA's efforts since the publication of ELG Program
Plan 14:
First, EPA is announcing a rulemaking to revise the ELGs for the Organic Chemicals, Plastics,
and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF) category to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
discharges from facilities manufacturing PFAS. Using available sampling data, EPA verified that
PFAS, including legacy long-chain PFAS and short-chain replacement PFAS, are present in
wastewater discharges from OCPSF facilities.
Second, EPA plans to conduct rulemaking to revise the Metal Finishing ELGs to address PFAS
discharges from chromium electroplating facilities. EPA found that the use of PFAS-based
mist/fume suppressants at these facilities results in wastewater containing PFAS. Data indicate
that PFAS, including both legacy long-chain PFAS and short-chain replacement PFAS, are
present in wastewater discharges from these facilities. Additionally, EPA identified several
chromium electroplating facilities that have effectively reduced effluent concentrations of PFAS
using granular activated carbon treatment.
Third, EPA has completed its detailed study of the Meat and Poultry Products point source
category and is announcing a rulemaking to revise the ELGs last updated in 2004. This category
includes facilities that slaughter, further process meat and poultry, or perform rendering
operations. The data indicate that this industry discharges the highest phosphorus levels and
second highest nitrogen levels of all industrial categories, causes treatment problems at publicly
owned treatment works receiving wastewater discharges, and that the existing ELG's only apply
to a small portion of the operating facilities nationwide.

Fourth, EPA will conduct detailed studies on PFAS in wastewater discharges from landfills as
well as textile and carpet manufacturers. EPA identified landfill leachate as a source of PFAS to
the environment resulting from disposal of products that contain PFAS. EPA identified textile
and carpet manufacturing wastewater as a source of PFAS to the environment resulting from the
use of PFAS chemicals in manufacturing at these facilities.
Fifth, EPA intends to publish a proposed Steam Electric Power Generating ELG supplemental
rule in the fall of 2022, following a July 26, 2021 announcement that EPA is initiating a
rulemaking process to strengthen certain discharge limits for certain wastewater streams from
coal power plants that use steam to generate electricity.
Finally, Preliminary Plan 15 provides updates on ongoing point source category studies of the
Electrical and Electronic Components category and the Multi-Industry PFAS study, and indicates
that EPA does not intend to take further action on oil and gas extraction wastewater management
at this time. Preliminary Plan 15 also provides initial results from EPA's review of the following
existing point source categories: Metal Products and Machinery, Explosives Manufacturing,
Canned and Preserved Seafood, Sugar Processing, Soap and Detergent Manufacturing, and
EPA solicits comments on the entirety of Preliminary Plan 15. EPA is particularly interested in
comments on the new cross-category wastewater pollutant concentration rankings analysis, the
status of the preliminary reviews of high-ranking categories, the capabilities of membranes for
industrial wastewater treatment technology, and the status of the PFAS multi-industry study.
Additionally, the public is encouraged to provide suggestions for how best to include
environmental justice (for overburdened and underserved communities) in ELG planning
Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 and related information are available at .