What is the National Pretreatment Program?

The National Pretreatment Program is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality. The program is designed to reduce the level of pollutants discharged by industry and other non-domestic wastewater sources into municipal sewer systems, and thereby, reduce the amount of pollutants released into the environment through wastewater. The objectives of the program are to protect the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) from pollutants that may interfere with plant operation, to prevent pollutants that may pass through untreated from being introduced into the POTW, and to improve opportunities for the POTW to reuse wastewater and sludges that are generated.

The term ""pretreatment"" refers to the requirement that nondomestic sources discharging wastewater to POTWs control their discharges, and meet limits established by EPA, the state or local authority on the amount of pollutants allowed to be discharged. The control of the pollutants may necessitate treatment prior to discharge to the POTW (therefore the term ""pretreatment""). Limits may be met by the nondomestic source through pollution prevention techniques (product substitution recycle and reuse of materials) or treatment of the wastewater.

Program objectives are:

  • To prevent industrial facilities' pollutant discharges from passing through municipal wastewater treatment plants untreated;
  • To protect treatment plants from the threat posed by untreated industrial wastewater, including explosion, fire, and interference with the treatment process  To improve the quality of effluents and sludges so that they can be used for beneficial purposes;
  • There are more than 1500 publicly owned treatment works that are required to implement local Pretreatment programs. By reducing the level of pollutants discharged by industry into municipal sewage systems, the program ensures the protection of America's multi-billion dollar public investment in treatment infrastructure.

Source: USEPA