Water Permitting

Wastewater Discharge Permits

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program is a comprehensive legislation administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control national water pollution. An NPDES water permit is required for facilities producing wastewater to prevent water quality degradation.


This water permit is a license for facilities to discharge a specified amount of a pollutant into receiving water under certain conditions. Obtaining this permit can be an arduous process because your facility must comply with environmental regulations from multiple agencies.

Midwest Environmental Consulting Services, Inc. (MEC) can assist with water permitting and compliance. Our water permitting consulting services are designed to keep your facility in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. Our team also helps streamline the application and permitting process by analyzing your facility and determining which permit is best suited for you.

Water permitting is necessary for facilities producing hazards that can potentially affect national water pollution control.

  • Treated municipal effluent

  • Treated industrial effluent

  • Coal and non-coal mining discharges

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

  • Public water supply treatment plant discharges

  • Pesticide discharges

  • Stormwater

As defined by NPDES, a pollutant is any type of industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste discharged into water. Pollutants can directly or indirectly enter waters of the United States from a variety of pathways including agricultural, domestic, and industrial sources.

The EPA’s definition of water includes navigable waters and their tributaries; interstate waters; and interstate lakes, rivers, and streams that are used for recreation, sources of fish sold in interstate commerce, or utilized for industrial purposes by industries engaged in interstate commerce.

According to the EPA:

“All facilities which discharge pollutants from any point source into waters of the United States are required to obtain a permit. The permit provides two levels of control: technology-based limits (based on the ability of dischargers in the same industrial Office of Wastewater Management – Water Permitting category to treat wastewater) and water quality-based limits (if technology-based limits are not sufficient to provide protection of the water body).”

A general permit covers multiple facilities within a specific category. This type of permit is a cost-effective option because a large number of facilities can be covered under a single permit. General permits can be written to cover categories of point sources with common elements such as stormwater point sources, facilities that involve the same or significantly similar types of operations, facilities that discharge the same types of waste, and facilities that require the same or similar monitoring.

However, general permits may only be issued to facilities within a specific geographical area. By issuing general permits, MEC allocates resources more efficiently to provide timelier permit coverage.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) limits the length of NPDES permits to five years. NPDES permits can be renewed at any time after the permit holder applies. Also, NPDES permits can be administratively extended if the facility reapplies more than 180 days before the permit expires.