EPA announces plans for new wastewater regulations, including first limits for PFAS

Sept. 9, 2021
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, which identifies opportunities to better protect public health and the environment through regulation of wastewater pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, which identifies opportunities to better protect public health and the environment through regulation of wastewater pollution. Preliminary Plan 15 announces that EPA will undertake three new rulemakings to reduce contaminants including PFAS and nutrients — from key industries.

“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. “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.”

EPA will be initiating three new rulemakings after concluding several studies that were discussed in Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14. The agency has determined that revised effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and pretreatment standards are warranted for:

  • Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers category to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges from facilities manufacturing PFAS.
  • Metal Finishing category to address PFAS discharges from chromium electroplating facilities.
  • Meat and Poultry Products category to address nutrient discharges.

Preliminary Plan 15 also discusses the Steam Electric Power Generating category rulemaking that the agency announced on July 26, 2021. EPA has initiated that rulemaking process to consider strengthening the effluent limits applicable to certain ELG waste streams from coal power plants that use steam to generate electricity.

To view Preliminary Plan 15 and learn how to submit comments, visit: https://www.epa.gov/eg/effluent-guidelines-plan.

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