EPA Announces Plans for New Wastewater Regulations, Including Limits for PFAS & Nutrients

Sept. 15, 2021

This will better protect public health and the environment through regulation of wastewater pollution. 

The U.S. EPA released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), which will undertake three new rulemakings to reduce contaminants including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and nutrients from key industries.

According to EPA, this will better protect public health and the environment through regulation of wastewater pollution. 

Three new rule-makings will be initiated by EPA after concluding several studies that were discussed in Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14. 

As a result of these studies, the agency determined that revised effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and pretreatment standards are warranted for:

  • Organic Chemicals, plastics and synthetic fibers to address PFAS discharges from facilities manufacturing PFAS;

  • Metal finishing category to address PFAS discharges from chromium electroplating facilities; And

  • Meat and poultry products category to address nutrient discharges.

“To protect drinking water supplies, recreational waters, and aquatic ecosystems, it is essential that we utilize the latest scientific and technological breakthroughs in wastewater treatment,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox in the EPA press release. “This plan illustrates one way that EPA is following science to better protect public health and the environment. Importantly and for the first time, EPA is committing to limit PFAS in wastewater discharges.”

Preliminary Plan 15 also mentions the Steam Electric Power Generating category rulemaking that the agency announced on Jul. 26, 2021, which addresses potentially strengthening the effluent limits applicable to certain ELG waste streams from coal power plants that use steam to generate electricity.

Preliminary Plan 15 provides initial results from EPA's studies of multiple categories, including the metal products and machinery, explosives manufacturing, and landfills industries.

To view Preliminary Plan 15 in full and learn how to submit comments, the full plan can be read here.

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Cristina Tuser