Wonder why your construction site needs a SWPPP and to you have do a weekly inspection? NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. NPDES was created in 1972 as an amendment to the Clean Water Act. It states that the discharge of pollutants from any point and non-point source to waters of the United States is unlawful, unless the discharge is in compliance with a permit. What is considered a point and non-point source and how is NPDES designed to help limit the damage done to the environment from these discharges?

A point source is defined by the EPA, as any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollution is discharged. Some examples include discharges from wastewater treatment plants, operational waste from industries, and combined sewer outfalls. Non-point source discharges generally result from runoff of large areas into storm drains or directly into water bodies such as municipalities, construction sites, or agricultural areas. Without proper monitoring and regulation discharges from these sources could have serious implications on surrounding water bodies and the environment.

NPDES discharges can be permitted with an Individual permit or a General permit. Individual permits address the specific design and applicable water quality standards to an individual facility while General permits authorize a category of discharges within a geographical area. Much of construction sites and industrial facilities which discharge storm water are covered under generic permits, such as the Florida Construction General Permit. An NPDES permit will generally outline an acceptable level of a pollutant or a pollutant parameter that is allowable in a discharge. For example, concentration of suspended solids, metals, or biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).  Generally, the permit holder may choose the technologies he/she would like to implement to meet the discharge criteria stated by the permit.

NPDES permits are important to help regulate the discharge of pollutants into our environment. Without them surrounding water bodies and the ecosystems that inhabit them would suffer as well as the economies that rely on them for varying different resources. As policies and technologies evolve we hope to see water quality in the country continue to improve. Companies like KCI can help you to make sure that your activities remain in compliance with Florida’s requirements. If you have any questions or need help ensuring your operation remains in compliance, please do not hesitate to contact KCI!



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