Wastewater treatment plant violations take many forms, such as discharging untreated or improperly treated wastewater, exceeding pollutant limits, or failing to properly monitor and report data. Violating treatment plants have serious consequences for the environment and public health, including the contamination of water resources and harm to aquatic life. Violations can be met with fines, legal action, and harm a facility’s reputation.
Plant operators play a critical role in ensuring that our communities have access to clean water. However, despite their best efforts, violations still occur as treatment is made difficult by aging and sometimes under-maintained equipment.
Here are the top four most common violations that US wastewater treatment plants face:
- Exceeding Effluent Limitations: Effluent limitations are the legally binding limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the levels of specific pollutants that can be present in discharged wastewater effluent. These limits are set to protect the environment and public health. When a plant exceeds these limits, it can cause harm to aquatic life and pose a risk to human health.
- Discharge of Unauthorized Substances: Wastewater treatment plants are not allowed to discharge any toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, or any other substance that could be harmful to the environment or public health. Discharging unauthorized substances is a serious violation and can result in significant fines and penalties.
- Failure to Monitor Discharge: Along with treatment, discharge monitoring is required to ensure treated wastewater meets regulatory standards. Plants must regularly test and report their effluent quality to state agencies and the EPA to confirm compliance. Failing to monitor discharge, or not monitoring it frequently enough, can result in significant fines.
- Improper Reporting: Finally, wastewater treatment plants are required to report their discharge data to the EPA on a regular basis. This data is used to monitor compliance with effluent limitations and track overall plant performance. Failing to properly report discharge data, or not reporting it in a timely manner, can also result in fines and penalties from state and federal agencies.
Being aware of common violations, plant operators can take steps to avoid them and maintain compliance. By doing so, they can preserve the environment and protect public health for generations to come.
Having difficulty meeting strict regulations for your wastewater treatment plant? Talk to an expert today!
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