Wastewater is produced by a variety of sources. It comes from residential drains as well as commercial interests and industrial concerns. Wastewater is produced by private homes, restaurants, manufacturing plants, oil refineries, mining operations, and all kinds of businesses.
Because of the harm to the environment that can result from simply dumping wastewater down drains and into rivers, lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water (or allowing it to seep into land masses and potentially infuse the ground water supply), waste water treatment is essential. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the treatment of wastewater to ensure adherence to standards that protect the safety of plants, animals, people, and the environment as a whole.
If your business is involved in creating and disposing of wastewater, whether you utilize DGF or DAF water treatment on-site or you rely on local wastewater treatment facilities to do it for you, there are a few things you should know about your legal obligations. Here are some important EPA guidelines for discharged wastewater you should be aware of.
EPA Effluent Guidelines
The EPA issues guidelines regarding the proper disposal of discharged wastewater by industry, and standards can vary from one industry to the next. For example, the standards for wastewater produced by plants that process raw seafood are very different from guidelines related to battery manufacturing, construction, hospitals, ore mining, sugar processing, or textile mills, just to name a few of the industries for which the EPA provides specific standards.
The point is that you need to understand the guidelines that apply specifically to your industry – there is no universal handbook. Further, it is important to be aware not only of existing guidelines, but also regulations that are currently under development.
Generally speaking, the implementation of new waste water treatment rules and regulations will include a grace period for businesses to come into compliance, giving them time to integrate new equipment and processes into their operations. However, there’s nothing wrong with getting a jump on the passage of new guidelines.
Making changes to your wastewater discharge process could come with significant expense for equipment, development of processes, and training. Plus, any major change takes time. Being aware of regulations under development can help you to prepare.
If you want to check out effluent guidelines for your industry, learn about regulations currently under development, or keep an eye on the progress of industry studies, simply visit the EPA website at EPA.gov and go to the section on Effluent Guidelines.
Creating and Implementing a Plan
EPA guidelines for discharged wastewater relate the standards that businesses must meet when it comes to the wastewater they produce. These guidelines don’t necessarily tell you how to create or implement a plan to remain in compliance with set standards.
However, when you understand what your end goals are in relation to wastewater discharge, including specs on safe levels of conventional and toxic pollutants, as well as the removal of waste solids, oil and grease, chemical and biological contaminants, and so on, you can begin to work out a plan for ensuring that treated wastewater meets EPA standards.
You may have to partner with a company that specializes in creating wastewater treatment equipment so that you can custom design a setup for your operation. Or, you might end up cooperating with local wastewater treatment facilities, handling the pre-treatment process on your end and then passing along wastewater to a nearby facility that is better equipped to further treat it.
Either way, knowing the EPA standards you have to comply with will give you a starting point when it comes to planning and implementing a system to treat the wastewater your business creates.
The EPA makes a point of conducting studies on a variety of industries to determine the environmental impact of operations in order to set controls for reducing pollution and waste. In terms of wastewater production and treatment, it’s important for business interests to pay attention to which fields are currently under review.
If your industry is part of an ongoing study by the EPA into the production, content, and effects of wastewater, completion of the study could lead to new guidelines that affect your business practices. In other words, it pays to be aware of EPA wastewater studies so that you can remain up-to-date with the latest developments and ensure compliance with all regulatory guidelines.