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Water: Water Quality Standards Academy

Basic Course: Supplemental Topics (NPDES Permit 8)

NPDES Permit Program

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Effluent Limits: Technology-Based Determination

When a State or Tribe includes a technology-based limit in an NPDES permit, it is a performance standard only and the permitting authority generally cannot require the use of a particular technology to achieve the limit. Instead, it is left to the discharger to decide what approach it will take—the use of a particular technology or the implementation of pollution abatement—to comply with the permit requirements.


Key Point. Although the national standards and guidelines for the technology-based approach are promulgated in the NPDES program regulations, they are not “self-implementing.” For this reason, permit writers need to properly identify and apply the appropriate standards and guidelines by calculating and incorporating the technology-based effluent limits (TBELs) into NPDES permits.

Where national effluent limitation standards or guidelines are not available, permit writers can establish technology-based limits on a case-by-case basis using best professional judgment (BPJ).

For informational purposes only–Not official statements of EPA policy.

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