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Preliminary 2006 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Fact Sheet, August 2005

EPA seeks comment on a preliminary plan for reviewing effluent guidelines. These regulations improve water quality by controlling discharges from industrial sources. The Clean Water Act requires EPA to publish a plan every other year that describes the Agency’s approach to revising or developing effluent guidelines over the coming years. This is the first step in meeting that requirement for the 2006-07 planning cycle. EPA will hold a public meeting on this preliminary Plan on Tuesday, September 20, 2005, in Washington, DC.

Background on Effluent Guidelines Plan

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), EPA establishes national regulations (called effluent limitations guidelines and standards) to reduce discharges of pollutants from industries to surface waters and publicly owned treatment works. Section 304(m) of the CWA requires EPA to publish a final Effluent Guidelines Program Plan every other year and to give the public an opportunity to comment on such plan before it is final. This Federal Register notice presents the preliminary 2006 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan. It discusses the process we are using to identify industries for further investigation and analysis that will help us decide whether to identify effluent guidelines to revise (for existing rules) or develop (for new rules) in the final plan. We expect to publish the final plan in August 2006.

Background on Effluent Guidelines

Effluent guidelines are national regulations that control the discharge of pollutants to surface waters and to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Effluent guidelines are specific to an industry. EPA writes effluent guidelines for all types of industrial discharges -- from manufacturing, agricultural, and service industries.

The effluent guidelines program is one of EPA’s most successful environmental protection programs. Effluent guidelines have helped reverse the water quality degradation that accompanied industrialization in this country. These regulations reduce the discharge of pollutants that have serious environmental impacts, including pollutants that:

  • kill or impair fish and other aquatic organisms;
  • cause health problems through contaminated water, fish, or shellfish; and
  • degrade aquatic ecosystems

EPA has already issued effluent guidelines for 56 industries. These regulations have prevented the discharge of more than 1.2 billion pounds of toxic pollutants each year.

Summary of Plan

This notice first presents EPA’s 2005 review of existing effluent guidelines. Second, it presents our evaluation of indirect dischargers without pretreatment standards to identify potential new categories for national pretreatment standards. Pretreatment standards are Clean Water Act technology-based controls that regulate industrial discharges before they enter sewage treatment facilities and then enter surface waters. Third, this notice presents the preliminary 2006 effluent guidelines program plan as required under CWA section 304(m). This includes establishing a schedule for the annual review and revision of promulgated effluent guidelines and for identifying industrial categories without effluent guidelines that might need to be regulated to prevent or control pollution. The specific industries that EPA is proposing for more detailed analyses are Steam Electric Power Generation; Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard; and Tobacco Products.

Finally, we are also announcing our intention to finalize the draft Strategy for National Clean Water Industrial Regulations. EPA first solicited public comments in November 2002, and we received 22 public comments. We also gained insight during the 2004 planning process on how best to incorporate the Strategy into our planning process, and we suspect that our stakeholders learned as well. EPA again solicits comment to offer the broadest possible opportunity for public input into our planning decisions for the effluent guidelines program. EPA intends to publish the final Strategy when we publish the final 2006 Plan in August 2006.

Further Information

For additional information concerning this action, you can contact Mr. Carey A. Johnston at (202) 566-1014 at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Engineering and Analysis Division (4303T), 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. or you can send an e-mail to johnston.carey@epa.gov. You can view or download the complete text of the Federal Register notice on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/guide/plan.html. To submit comments or find additional information supporting the preliminary Plan, visit EPA’s eDocket, searching for Docket ID No. OW-2004-0032.

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