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FAQ: Wastewater Discharges to Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands

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Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

FAQ: Wastewater Discharges to Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands

Initiated by the Clean Water Act in 1972, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls the discharge of pollutants into surface waters by imposing effluent limitations to protect water quality. Although NPDES is a federal program, Michigan has been granted the authority to implement the program.

  • Anyone discharging, or proposing to discharge, waste or wastewater into the surface waters of the State is required by law to obtain a NPDES permit. The NPDES program is intended to control direct discharge into the surface waters of the State by imposing effluent limits and other conditions necessary to meet State and federal requirements.

    The NPDES program regulates pollutants discharged directly into waterways from wastewater sources. Indirect dischargers (those who discharge to a municipal treatment facility via a sanitary sewer) are not required to have an NPDES permit. Discharge to a storm sewer does not go to a municipal treatment facility and is considered a direct discharge. Discharge to a municipal treatment facility may require a permit from the municipality under the Industrial Pretreatment Program.

    Additional information can be found on EGLE's Frequently Asked Questions Document on wastewater discharges.

  • EGLE uses the MiEnviro permitting and compliance database for all wastewater related permitting. MiEnviro enables Michigan to fulfill federal electronic reporting requirements and providing an online component for access to public information. The focus of MiEnviro is permitting and compliance, including National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits (including storm water permits) and Groundwater Discharge Permits. It also includes electronic reporting of untreated or partially treated sanitary wastewater.

    One of our focuses in developing MiEnviro is to create a system that makes it easier for the EGLE to communicate with, and provide services electronically to, our regulated community. Below is a list of some of the functions and features that MiEnviro provides:

    • Permit applications will be submitted electronically.
    • The Electronic Environmental Discharge Monitoring Reporting (e-DMR) system is replaced with a more sophisticated system that will provide additional validation and feedback to permittees, and help detect and prevent errors prior to submittal.
    • All permit-required submittals will be submitted electronically.
    • Those with a MiEnviro account will be able to manage permissions, deciding who can view, edit, and submit applications or submittals.
    • Wastewater treatment plants will manage biosolids application sites online. Requests may be submitted through MiEnviro with notification sent upon approval.
    • MiEnviro will provide near real-time notifications, to the permittee, of any violations determined by the system or by staff, providing permittees with an early "heads up" and opportunity to correct problems.

    MiEnviro training information is at MiEnviro seminars, webinars, and videos.

    Paper applications for NPDES permits are no longer be accepted now that MiEnviro is implemented.

  • EGLE has developed separate guidance documents for NPDES (non-storm water) permits, NPDES storm water permits, and Groundwater discharge permits to help you determine the appropriate fee amounts.

  • The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) provides a directory of environmental consultants as a service to Michigan business and residents. One of the primary obligations of any business is to maintain compliance with federal, state, and local environmental, health and safety regulations