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Pretreatment & Emerging Contaminants
The National Pretreatment Program has been an extremely successful part of the Clean Water Act, allowing clean water agencies and EPA to serve as co-regulators for the industrial and commercial users of municipal sewer systems. Utility pretreatment plays a vital role in protecting wastewater treatment processes and the environment from industrial and commercial pollutants, and these programs have significantly reduced the quantities of pollutants that are discharged into the sewer system. NACWA advocates for reasonable national pretreatment standards that assist utility pretreatment programs in their regulation of industries while preserving the utility’s ability to control for their own local conditions.
While utilities have the authority to regulate discharges from commercial and industrial users through the pretreatment program, domestic discharges cannot be regulated. Concerns about the environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals, microplastics, personal care products, household pesticide products, and other consumer products are increasing. NACWA is working with utilities, EPA, and other organizations to explore ways to prevent potential problems from these emerging contaminants.
Unnecessary and potentially harmful product additives are addressed through NACWA’s Toilets Are Not Trashcans campaign, which also focuses on reducing the inappropriate flushing of wipes, paper towels, feminine products, and other products that can harm sewer systems and treatment plants.
In addition to its advocacy work on behalf of Member Agency pretreatment programs, NACWA organizes an annual National Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Workshop. Any members interested in joining NACWA’s Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee or with questions about NACWA’s pretreatment work can contact Cynthia Finley.