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National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit

Who Needs An NPDES Discharge Permit?

Persons discharging pollutants directly from point sources into surface waters of the state must obtain an NPDES discharge permit from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources. Direct dischargers include industrial and commercial wastewater, industrial stormwater, and municipal wastewater discharges. Mining facilities and Class I Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) also require NPDES discharge permits.

Industries sending wastewater to public sewers, called publicly owned treatment works (POTW), are considered indirect dischargers, and they do not need an NPDES discharge permit. However, these industries must obtain a discharge permit from their local POTW. POTW standards and requirements are specified in local sewer ordinances. Industries that discharge to a POTW must contact their municipality to obtain a discharge permit.

Plans for treatment works may have to be prepared by an engineer licensed in the state of Tennessee. Plans must be approved by the Division of Water Resources prior to construction.

What Information Must I provide?

EPA Application Form 1 - This form is required of all NPDES permit applicants, except when completing Form 2A (information already included). The form requires general facility information such as the name, address and telephone number of the facility and contact person; Standard Industrial Classification codes and nature of the business; operator information; existing environmental permits; and a topographic map of the area extending at least one mile beyond property lines.

EPA Application Form 2A - All new and existing Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) must complete this form. Form 2A is divided into six major sections. It also contains five effluent monitoring tables (Tables A through E) and industrial discharge information table (Table F), all located at the end of the form. Note that not all applicants are required to complete each section of the form or all of the tables. The questions on the form will direct you to the items and tables you must complete.

EPA Application Form 2C - This form is for existing manufacturing, commercial, mining, and silvicultural operations. The form requires information concerning the flows, source of pollution and treatment technologies; production and improvements to reduce pollutants in the discharge; intake and effluent characteristics; potential discharges not covered by the analysis; biological toxicity testing data; and contract analysis information.

EPA Application Form 2D - This form is required of all new dischargers, except for new POTWs, which would use Form 2A. The form requires information concerning outfall location; discharge date; flows, sources of pollution and treatment technologies; production of the effluent; effluent characteristics; and meeting the performance standards for engineering documents prepared for sewerage works projects in the State as authorized primarily in the TDEC Rules Chapter 0400-40-02 (see General Engineering Requirements).

EPA Application Form 2E - This form is for facilities that discharge only non-process wastewater (e.g., discharges of sanitary wastes, cafeteria wastes and noncontact cooling water). The form requires information concerning the receiving waters, discharge date, type of waste, effluent characteristics, an indication of whether the discharge will be intermittent or seasonal and the treatment system.

EPA Application Form 2F - This form is available for applicants who are not eligible for coverage by an NPDES Tennessee Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit and whose discharge is composed entirely of stormwater. Form 2F is also available to dischargers who choose to be covered under an individual permit rather than a general permit. The form requires outfall location information, a narrative description of pollutant sources, a site drainage map, information on significant leaks or spills, discharge information, biological toxicity testing data, existing best management practices, and certification that the discharge contains only stormwater.

TDEC Form CN-1090 - This form is required to identify the parties responsible for different aspects of the permit. 

In most cases, topographic maps, process flow line diagrams, and extensive sampling data are required with the applications. A preliminary engineering report and treatability analysis also may be required where unusual or complex wastewater treatment systems may be needed.

How Will My Application Be Processed?

If the application is incomplete or if additional information is required, the applicant will be notified. When all information has been received, the application is either approved or denied. If approved, a draft permit is prepared, and a public notice is issued. The applicant is given 25 days and the EPA is given 60 days to review and comment on the draft permit. EPA does not review all draft permits. A public hearing is held if significant interest is displayed. After considering public comments, the appropriate revisions are made, and the final permit is issued. The Division must make permit decisions within one (1) year of receipt of a complete application for major facilities and within 180 days of receipt of a complete application for minor facilities. The permit process can take from six (6) to 12 months. Normally, the permit is issued for a term of five (5) years. Under the current development phase of the WPC Watershed Initiative, however, permits may be issued for less than five (5) years to synchronize the permit expiration dates of all facilities within a given watershed. A permit may be appealed to the Water Quality Control Board within 30 days after the final permit is received.

What Fees Are Required?

  • Plan review fees vary from $250 to $1,500, depending on the design flow capacity of the facility, or the size of a mining site in acres. These fees are due with the application.
  • Annual Maintenance Fees varies from $140 to $10,380, depending on the volume of discharge, or the size of disturbance in acres on a mining site, and the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code of the facility.

To view fees as referenced in Rules 0400-40-11. Fee information begins on page 7.

What Are My Rights And Responsibilities After The Permit Is Issued?

The applicant may proceed with the permitted activity in accordance with the established limitations on the concentration and/or mass of pollutants and all other permit requirements. The permit is transferable for a change of ownership and with the proper authorization. Minor modifications can be made administratively, but major changes require a public notice. For renewals, applications must be submitted at least 180 days before the existing permit expires. If the permittee disagrees with specific terms and conditions in the permit, the applicant may appeal to the Water Quality Control Board within 30 days of the date of issuance, provided the appealed item was addressed as part of the draft process.

The applicant is responsible for complying with all the applicable rules, regulations and permit requirements. These include meeting specified effluent limitations and fulfilling monitoring, sampling and reporting requirements to assess effluent quantity and quality (biological, chemical and physical characteristics).

What Are The Division's Rights And Responsibilities After The Permit Is Issued?

The Division of Water Resources has the responsibility to take all prudent steps to secure, protect and preserve the waters of Tennessee.

The Division and the EPA have the right to enter and inspect the facility and all related records at any reasonable time. They also may inspect any related equipment or monitoring methods. The Division has the right to revoke, suspend or modify any permit for violation of permit conditions.

Whom Do I Contact For Applications, Assistance And Other Sources Of Information?

Applications and assistance can be obtained from the Division of Water Resources. New applicants who need more than one permit can contact their Environmental Field Office for further assistance.

Applicants seeking coverage under a general or individual Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit for activities associated with a NPDES permit for mining related discharges, a Surface Mining permit, Mineral test-hole permit, coverage under TMSP Sector J, or the Rock Harvesting general permit must submit an application to the Mining Section at the Knoxville Environmental Field Office.  Electronic application submittals and requests for information specific to mining related activities may be received at TDEC.Mining@tn.gov.

Applicants may refer to the following publications: