Pretreatment

The National Pretreatment Program is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality. The program is designed to reduce the level of pollutants discharged by industry and other non-domestic wastewater sources into municipal sewer systems, and thereby, reduce the amount of pollutants released into the environment from these sources.

Congress established the national pretreatment program under authority of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 as amended by the Clean Water Act of 1977. Implementation requirements of the pretreatment portions of these laws were first codified into 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 403 in 1978.

Objectives of the pretreatment program:

  • Protect publicly owned treatment works (POTW) from pollutants that may
    cause interference with sewage treatment plant operations.
  • Prevent introducing pollutants into a POTW that could cause pass through of
    untreated pollutants to receiving waters.
  • Manage pollutant discharges into a POTW to improve opportunities for reuse of
    POTW wastewater and residuals (sewage sludge).
  • Prevent introducing pollutants into a POTW that could cause worker health or
    safety concerns, or that could pose a potential endangerment to the public or to
    the environment.

The term “pretreatment” refers to the requirement that non-domestic sources discharging wastewater to POTWs control their discharges, and meet limits established by EPA, the State of Texas or the local municipality (HWWS) on the amount of pollutants allowed to be discharged. The control of the pollutants may necessitate treatment prior to discharge to the POTW (therefore the term “pretreatment”).  Limits may often be met by the non-domestic source through pollution prevention techniques (product substitution, recycle and reuse of materials, more efficient production practices, improved environmental management systems, etc.), pretreatment of wastewater, or implementation of best management practices.