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Defensive Water Quality Modeling: Industry's Role in NPDES Permitting
Author: Claudia L. Zahorcak, P. Jonathan Young

Recent developments have increased industry's participation in the process of setting effluent limitations for its treated wastewater. Realistic effluent limitations have been difficult to obtain in areas where summer low flows and high water temperatures naturally reduce a stream's water quality. In November 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a procedure for reviewing and revising standards for a particular water body. Industries are now using this procedure successfully in the south central United States to develop stream standards that are more appropriate to the actually achievable beneficial uses of a water body. In several cases, industries and regulatory agencies have worked together to establish achievable beneficial uses, revise standards, and develop realistic effluent limitations. In this cooperative process, industry sponsors water quality studies to develop information that may justify changing the use classification of a stream. This industrial initiative, although it costs little, can be a successful technique for getting a less restrictive permit that requires much less costly treatment. As a result of cooperative action, regulators have issued new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits based on a detailed analysis of actual water quality; these permits set justifiable effluent limitations while still protecting achievable uses.