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Water: Basics

Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards


Effluent limitations guidelines and standards are established by EPA for different non-municipal (i.e., industrial) categories.  These guidelines are developed based on the degree of pollutant reduction attainable by an industrial category through the application of pollutant control technologies.

Effluent Guidelines by Industry

The Clean Water Act requires EPA to specifically develop effluent guidelines that represent the following:       

To date, EPA has established guidelines and standards for more than 50 different industrial categories (e.g., metal finishing facilities, steam electric power plants, iron and steel manufacturing facilities). These guidelines appear in 40 CFR Parts 405-499. Additionally, Section 304(m) of the 1987 Water Quality Act (WQA) requires EPA to publish a biennial plan for developing new effluent guidelines and a schedule for the annual review and revision of existing promulgated guidelines. As such, EPA is constantly developing new guidelines, and revising or updating existing guidelines.  All effluent guidelines applicable to a facility must be included in an NPDES permit.    


The EPA Office of Science and Technology (OST) is responsible for developing and updating effluent limitations guidelines and standards, that provides:          

  1. information and access to existing effluent guidelines,       
  2. summaries of guidelines currently under development, and       
  3. other effluent guidelines related information.

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