Should EPA revise its stance on industrial wastewater discharges to groundwater?

Agency will accept public comments on ways pollutants reach surface waters via groundwater

Posted February 21, 2018

EPA is seeking public comments on its stance on regulating pollutants under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Specifically, EPA is looking for information on whether pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters through groundwater or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to the jurisdictional surface water may be subject to CWA regulation. In addition, EPA wants comments on whether it should clarify or revise its previous statements on pollutant discharges and the CWA.

EPA has previously stated that pollutants discharged from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to the jurisdictional water may be subject to permitting requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

The issue of whether these types of pollutant discharges are covered by the CWA is important for two reasons: 1) EPA is currently reconsidering the Clean Water Rule and its definition of “Waters of the United States.” This could potentially affect which waters are considered jurisdictional waters; and 2) Not all discharges to groundwater are covered by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Only discharges of pollutants to surface waters that can be proven to be via groundwater require NPDES permits.

Comments may be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal using EPA Docket ID # EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0063. Comments must be received on or before May 21, 2018.


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