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Water: Waste Treatment

Effluent Guidelines: Proposed Rule (1998)

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

Proposed Rule (1998)

Fact Sheet; EPA-821-F-98-018; December 1998

EPA is issuing a supplemental proposal for the Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards, and New Source Performance Standards for the Centralized Waste Treatment Point Source Category. This proposed regulation establishes technology-based effluent limitations guidelines for the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States and into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) by existing and new facilities that treat or recover any hazardous or non-hazardous industrial waste, wastewater, or used material from off-site.

Introduction to Effluent Guidelines

Effluent limitations guidelines are national regulations that establish restrictions on the discharge of pollutants to surface waters or to POTWs by specific categories of industries. The requirements are developed by EPA based on the application of specific process or treatment technologies to control pollutant discharges. Although the guidelines are based on particular technologies, EPA does not require dischargers to use these technologies. Individual facilities may meet the requirements using whatever types of treatment technologies and process changes they choose. Since 1974, EPA has promulgated effluent limitations guidelines and standards for 51 industrial categories.


On January 27, 1995 (60 FR 5465), EPA proposed regulations to reduce discharges to navigable waters of toxic, conventional and nonconventional pollutants in treated wastewater from centralized waste treatment (CWT) facilities. The Agency proposed limitations and standards for an estimated 85 facilities in three subcategories: (1) Metal-bearing waste treatment and recovery, (2) Oily waste treatment and recovery and (3) Organic waste treatment and recovery.

In September 1996 (61 FR 48806), EPA published a Notice of Data Availability, providing revised estimates of the number of facilities in the oily waste subcategory and a revised description of that subcategory.

Definition of Centralized Waste Treatment Facility

The term centralized waste treatment facility means any facility that treats or recovers any hazardous or non-hazardous industrial waste, wastewater, or used material from off-site.

The term CWT facility does not apply to facilities engaged in the following activities:

  • centralized waste treatment operations in which all waste is received from off-site solely via pipeline or a fixed delivery system;
  • centralized waste treatment operations at facilities which are subject to existing national effluent limitations guidelines and standards and which receive wastes from off-site for treatment or recovery that would be subject to the same national effluent limitations guidelines and standards as the on-site generated wastes;
  • the treatment or recovery of off-site sanitary wastes;
  • electrolytic plating/metallic replacement silver recovery operations on used photographic and x-ray materials;
  • high temperature metals recovery operations that use heat-based pyrometallurgical technologies to recover metals;
  • used oil filter recycling operations generating no wastewater;
  • solids recovery operations so long as the solids remain in solid form when in contact with water and do not leach any chemicals into the water (e.g. aluminum cans, glass, plastic bottles);
  • treatment or recovery of animal or vegetable fats/oils from grease traps or interceptors generated by facilities engaged in food service activities;
  • transportation equipment cleaning (TEC) operations or centralized waste treatment of TEC-generated waste-waters (unless the TEC wastewaters are mixed with other wastewaters);
  • centralized waste treatment of landfill wastewaters (unless these wastewaters are mixed with other wastewaters); and
  • centralized waste treatment of industrial combustor wastewaters (unless these wastewaters are mixed with other wastewaters).

Scope of the Supplemental Proposal

EPA is proposing to (1) subcategorize the CWT point source category into three subcategories; (2) establish effluent limitations for new and existing sources discharging wastewater directly to surface waters; and (3) establish pretreatment standards for new and existing sources discharging wastewater to POTWs.

EPA is proposing to subcategorize the CWT point source category into the following three subcategories based on types of waste, wastewater and/or used material accepted for treatment or recovery:

  • Subcategory A: Metal-bearing waste treatment and recovery operations;
  • Subcategory B: Used/Waste Oil Treatment and Recovery Operations; and
  • Subcategory C: Organic Waste Treatment.

Wastewaters Covered by Proposed Guideline

The wastewater flows covered by the rule include all off-site generated wastewater and all on-site generated wastewater. This includes waste receipts (materials received from off-site), solubilization water, used oil/emulsion breaking wastewater, tanker truck/drum/roll-off box washes, equipment washes, air pollution control waters, laboratory-derived wastewater, wastewater from on-site industrial waste combustors or landfills, and contaminated stormwater.

Costs and Benefits

EPA estimates that compliance with this proposal will reduce the discharge of pollutants by at least 14.7 million pounds per year of conventional pollutants and 4.1 million pounds per year of toxic and non-conventional pollutants. Compliance costs are projected to be $27.8 million annually, and projected benefits (health, recreational, etc.) range from $5.3 million to $15.9 million annually.

Additional Information

The Federal Register Notice and supporting development documents describing this rule are available on-line. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for February 18, 1998 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm in the EPA Auditorium at Waterside Mall, 401 M Street SW, Washington D.C. For additional information, contact Jan Matuszko at matuszko.jan@epa.gov or at (202) 566-1035.

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