Did you know there are permits to discharge liquid waste into waterways?
As part of the 1972 Clean Water Act, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System or NPDES was created. It is a framework for regulating industries and sewage treatment facilities which produce liquid waste. These permits specify the volume of waste, concentrations of pollutants, and monitoring frequency. Every 5 years permits expire and must be renewed. During the renewal the public who “owns” the water is invited to comment and propose changes. A public hearing may also be requested.
In the Catawba River basin there are 157 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and 195 industrial discharges. In NC, the state agency in charge of enforcing and writing these permits is grossly underfunded and understaffed. They often only hear from the industries seeking to discharge pollution.
Part of the Riverkeeper’s job is to review these permits and make sure our water is being protected.
The Riverkeeper also actively monitors water quality through ambient and investigative water sampling.