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The Clean Water Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish effluent limitations guidelines limiting discharges of pollution from categories of industrial operations. For most of its 30-year history, the effluent guidelines program has operated under a series of judicial consent decrees. In June 2004, EPA completed its last effluent guidelines rulemaking under the most recent decree. EPA has now promulgated effluent guidelines for 57 industry categories with more than 450 industry subcategories. These regulations apply to more than 35,000 facilities that discharge directly to the Nation's waters. For many industries, EPA also has promulgated pretreatment standards for industrial facilities that discharge into publicly owned treatment works.. These pretreatment standards apply to another 12,000 facilities. EPA estimates that its effluent limitations guidelines and pretreatment standards prevent the discharge of more than 690 billion pounds of pollutants annually, including more than one billion pounds of toxics specifically listed in the statute, 220 billion pounds of nutrients, salts and other toxics, and 470 billion pounds of “conventional” pollutants such as suspended solids and oxygen-demanding material.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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