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Water: Permitting (NPDES)



Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation's water quality.



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The site contains technical and regulatory information about the NPDES permit program. The NPDES Permits Program consists of a number of programs and initiatives. Links to each of these programs and initiatives are located on the right navigational bar.

  • For information on specific facilities with NPDES permits, there are several EPA public search tools that may be helpful:

    • Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) - The public access website to data stored in EPA’s compliance and enforcement data systems, including ICIS-NPDES for facilities regulated under the CWA NPDES program. ECHO allows users to find and download information on permit data, inspections, violations, enforcement actions, and penalties. The ECHO website was recently modernized and redesigned to make it easier to use and maintain. The modernized search for Clean Water Act facility search, effluent charts, and water quality data.

    • Envirofacts - A single point of access to select U.S. EPA environmental data. This website provides access to several EPA databases to provide you with information about environmental activities, including those that affect water. Under “System Data Searches”, a user can retrieve facility data from ICIS-NPDES.

      Specify the facilities by using any combination of facility name, permit number, location, industrial classification, and chemicals.

    • Clean Water Act DMR Pollutant Loading Tool - This tool helps users determine who is discharging, what pollutants they are discharging and how much, and where they are discharging. Provides and calculates water discharge information from the EPA system for water enforcement and compliance data and from the Toxics Release Inventory (2007-2011). Search by location, watershed, pollutant, or industry and compare the two EPA datasets.

    • My WATERS Mapper - Displays snapshots of EPA Office of Water program data and enables you to create customized maps at national and local scales. The “Other EPA Water Data” section allows the user to display all NPDES facilities on a map, along with several other features, such as impaired waters and waters with TMDLs.

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