In 1972 Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also know as the Clean Water Act (CWA), to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters. The goals of the CWA are to eliminate the introduction of pollutants into the nation’s navigable waters and to achieve fishable and swimmable water quality levels. The CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program represents one of the key components established to accomplish the goals of the CWA. The NPDES Permit Program generally requires that point source discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States, i.e., direct dischargers, obtain an NPDES permit. The CWA also established substantial penalty authority for noncompliance with NPDES permits.
In addition to addressing the direct discharges, the CWA also established a regulatory program to address indirect discharges from industries to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) through the Industrial Pretreatment Program, a component of the NPDES Permit Program. The Industrial Pretreatment Program requires industrial and commercial dischargers, called industrial users (IUs), to obtain permits or other control mechanisms to discharge wastewater to the POTW. Such a permit may specify the effluent quality that necessitates that an industrial user pretreat or otherwise control pollutants in its wastewater before discharging it to a POTW.
In Georgia, the Industrial Pretreatment Program was initiated in the early 1980s. In 1980-1981 the first six industrial pretreatment programs developed at the local level were submitted to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for approval.