Permits for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants: Learning More
- What is a municipal wastewater treatment plant?
- What will this permit do?
- Who is applying?
- What else can I learn about the applicant?
- How can I learn what other people think about this?
- What if I have more questions?
What is a municipal wastewater treatment plant?
Homes, schools, and businesses generate domestic wastewater. A municipal wastewater treatment plant cleans this water before releasing it back to the environment.
When the municipal plant has finished cleaning the water—cleaned water is called treated effluent—the plant will need to dispose of the effluent. The treatment plant can either dispose of the effluent by discharging it to a stream, lake, or other waterway, or applying the effluent to the land for beneficial uses. It can also be allowed to evaporate.
What will this permit do?
Wastewater permits are needed to manage the quality of surface water and groundwater. This permit sets limits on wastewater disposal activities. If the effluent disposal is to waters of the state, the permit is called a Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) permit and the effluent disposal is called a discharge. If the effluent disposal is for a beneficial land use, the permit is called a Texas Land Application Permit (TLAP) and the treated effluent is said to be disposed of on the effluent application site. The effluent limits and conditions in a wastewater permit are designed to maintain a water body’s designated uses, maintain groundwater quality, and to protect human health and aquatic life.
To determine wastewater disposal limits, we study the lakes, streams, and other surface water bodies in Texas to learn:
- How the water bodies are used (or can be used)
- How well the water bodies can tolerate added nutrients or pollutants
- What restrictions we should place on new wastewater discharges to ensure that the water can continue to be used as it is currently used
When an applicant proposes to discharge wastewater into a body of water, we consider these factors and decide whether to issue the permit.
If we decide to issue a municipal wastewater permit, it will require the applicant to clean their wastewater to specific standards before:
- discharging to a waterway (TPDES permit) or
- applying to the land the treated water for beneficial uses, either as irrigation on the land or using a below-surface disposal method such as a drain field or drip disposal system (TLAP permit)
If there is an industrial wastewater component from businesses, we may also require special pretreatment to remove substances that cannot be processed by the municipal treatment plant.
By obtaining a permit, the owners and operators of the municipal wastewater plant agree to follow the permit requirements.
Who is applying?
When you see a public notice about a permit application, look at the first paragraph to find the name of the applicant.
If you do not see the notice published in a newspaper, you can find public notices on our website:
- Search for these notices, plus more status information about the application
- Search for public notices only
What else can I learn about the applicant?
You can learn about this applicant and their plans by contacting them directly. The last paragraph in the public notice will tell you how to contact the applicant.
We also have ways you can learn about this applicant's history with us — for example:
- Other facilities they have permits for
- Other businesses they are related to
- Their environmental track record
How can I learn what other people think about this?
On our website you can search for information about comments others have made about this application. Under Step Three be sure to choose "Include all correspondence...".
What if I have more questions?
Our Public Education Program can help you find the status of applications and tell you more about our permitting processes.
- Call PEP at 800-687-4040
- Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org