Begin on the Federal Level
The regulatory basis of the Pretreatment Program is in the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1978 General Pretreatment Regulations. The 1972 Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop national pretreatment standards to control industrial discharges into public sewage systems. These standards are uniform national requirements which restrict the levels of certain pollutants in the wastewater discharge from industries. All Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTW), must enforce the federal standards.
The 1978 Federal General Pretreatment Regulations, and subsequent modifications, require POTWs discharging over 5 million gallons a day and those that receive waste from significant indutrial users, to establish and implement local pretreatment programs. The local programs must enforce all national pretreatment standards and establish and enforce local standards or limitations to prevent disruption of the sewage treatment systems, disruption of sludge use or disposal and prevent adverse environmental impacts. There currently are over 1,500 local pretreatment programs throughout the U.S.
Local Level Control
Enforcement authority was delegated to the local level because local authorities are more likely to be aware of the specific businesses and industries affected in their areas. They generally already have administrative mechanisms in place to base enforcement of the pretreatment program. POTWs are also better able to understand and correct problems within their own treatment systems and respond to any industrial discharge emergencies in a more timely fashion.