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Publicly Owned Treatment Works without Approved Pretreatment Programs

Determining if elements of a pretreatment program make sense for your POTW. Changing conditions that might require you to develop a pretreatment program. Options for POTWs when pretreatment is not required.

Does my POTW need an Approved Wastewater Pretreatment Program?

If a publicly owned treatment works (POTW) –or combination of POTWs owned by the same entity–must develop an approved pretreatment program, TCEQ will require it through either a Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) permit or an enforcement action.

You may be required to develop a TPDES pretreatment program when the POTW (or combination of WWTPs) meets the following conditions:

  • The total design flow is greater than 5 million gallons per day;
  • Industrial or commercial customers of the POTW discharge pollutants into the wastewater system that either pass through the treatment plant or interfere with its operation; or
  • One or more industrial users of the POTW meet the definition of "categorical industrial user."

TCEQ may also consider the following factors, and require a POTW to develop a TPDES pretreatment program if applicable:

  • The nature and volume of industrial wastewater received by the POTW
  • Whether contaminants that could have been removed or controlled by pretreatment have prevented sewage sludge from being used or disposed of as intended
  • Whether a pretreatment program will make significant differences in water quality in the water that receives effluent from the POTW—for example, in terms of the listed impairments on the 303(d) List or with respect to a total maximum daily load
  • The POTW's compliance history

Contact the Pretreatment program if you have questions.

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If You Do Not Have an Approved Pretreatment Program and the TCEQ Discovers Problems

If TCEQ discovers that wastewater discharges from commercial and industrial facilities have caused interference [see Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 403.3(k)] or pass through local limits and other elements of an approved pretreatment program.

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Developing a New Pretreatment Program

If your POTW is required to develop a pretreatment program, the final, technically-complete pretreatment program submission is due 12 months after the effective date of your TPDES permit.

Schedule of Activities

The permit will need to include a schedule of activities (compliance schedule). Submit the activities to the TCEQ Pretreatment program according to the dates specified in the Contributing Industries and Pretreatment Requirements section of your TPDES permit.

Industrial User Survey

The first activity for the permittee will be to conduct an industrial user survey to determine if there are significant industrial users or categorical industrial users discharging to the sewer system and to submit survey results to TCEQ. Based on the survey results, TCEQ may terminate the requirement for a pretreatment program or may require continuing the schedule of activities. (Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 403.8(a)-(c)


If you are required to develop a new pretreatment program, complete and submit the applicable checklists with the pretreatment program package: streamlining required nonsubstantial modification submittal, streamlining optional substantial modification submittal, legal authority, enforcement response plan, forms, standard operating procedures, and sampling protocols. Contact the Pretreatment program to obtain a copy of the checklists.

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