National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

The Clean Water Act (CWA) established the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program to control the discharge of pollutants through implementation of water quality standards and Federal technology-based standards and requirements in a permitting system. These NPDES permits protect receiving waters from the discharge of toxic material in toxic amounts.

The WQ Regulatory Specialist inventories and evaluates NPDES point source discharges of pollutants; issues 401 certification for applicable federal permits, evaluates NPDES Storm Water permit activities and requires Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) to be submitted 30 days prior to project start date to ensure protection of Reservation waters; and provides technical assistance to the EPA.

For Publicly-Owned Treatment Works, or POTWs, these NPDES permits may establish pretreatment program requirements to protect the POTW and may also specify acceptable practices for the disposal of municipal sewage sludge, or biosolids. EPA remains the permitting authority for NPDES permits on the Flathead Reservation. They consult with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) regarding permit limits and NPDES related issues. EPA sends draft permits to CSKT to do a CWA Section 401 certification regarding whether the permit will uphold CSKT Water Quality Standards.

Construction activities (including other land-disturbing activities) that disturb one acre or more are also regulated under the NPDES program.

Operators of regulated construction sites are required to develop and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) and to obtain permit coverage from an authorized agency or from EPA. Operators are required to submit a SWPPP 30 days before construction starts to the CSKT Water Quality Regulatory Specialist. They must have a SWPPP on site and submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) before starting construction and a Notice of Termination (NOT) at the end of the construction project.

Section 404(e) Permitting

Section 404(e) of the CWA authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) to issue general permits, including Nationwide Permits (NWPs). General permits authorize activities that are similar in nature and result inn no more than minimal adverse effects on the aquatic environment, individually and cumulatively. The lower acreage limits and more restrictive terms and conditions of the NWPs are necessary to comply with Section 404(e).

The NWPs provide an expedited review process for activities in waters of the United States that result in no more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse effects on the aquatic environment.