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Regulatory Updates

PFAS Discharges and NPDES Permits

Catriona V. Smith (Cat), R.E.M | May 25, 2022

On April 28, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water released a memo addressing the use of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to restrict per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges to water bodies. These changes will affect EPA-issued NPDES permits and Industrial Users (IUs) where EPA is the pretreatment control authority. This action is in line with the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap released in October 2021.

Concurrently, EPA’s Office of Water is working on revised Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs), and this action will allow them to collect additional data to aid in the ELG development.

Implications for IUs NPDES:

  • Quarterly effluent monitoring using draft analytical method 1633[1] for 40 different PFAS
  • Reporting of the quarterly effluent data on Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs)
  • Additional Best Management Practices (BMPs) including, but not limited to, product elimination/substitution, equipment decontamination or replacement
  • BMP special conditions such as facility evaluation of current or historical use of PFAS
  • Annual reporting (through NetDMR tool) on efforts to reduce/eliminate PFAS
  • BMPs in stormwater permits prohibiting use of Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) for activities other than actual firefighting
  • Requirements for immediate cleanup and diversions to prevent discharges

Implications for Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs):

  • Quarterly effluent, influent and biosolids monitoring using draft analytical method 16331 for 40 different PFAS
  • Addition of local limits in the form of BMPs (similar to those for IU permit holders above)

EPA will also provide additional public notice to potentially affected downstream intakes at Public Water Systems (PWS).

Affected States:

EPA Administered Programs

State All NPDES Federal Facilities NPDES Tribal Lands NPDES
New Mexico X
Massachusetts X
New Hampshire X
Washington D.C. X
Washington X X
Montana X
Wyoming X
Colorado X X
Nevada X
Kansas X
New York X (limited #) X


Illinois is not authorized to administer pretreatment or sludge application

Indiana and EPA administer pretreatment permits cooperatively

What Can You Do to Prepare?

  • If you have a facility with a NPDES permit in New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Washington D.C., you can prepare for the new NPDES permit requirements by:
    • Evaluating product elimination/substitution
    • Identifying past spills or releases and AFFF usage
    • Reviewing/revising BMPs
  • Manage the issue by developing a plan for enhanced PFAS management including a response to agency information requests, sampling, storage, disposal options, etc.
  • If your facility falls into EPA jurisdiction for the remaining states above, as a federal facility or a facility on tribal lands, the same recommendations apply


[1] Draft Adsorbable Organic Fluorine CWA wastewater method 1621 can be used in conjunction with draft method 1633, if appropriate


For more information, please contact: Cat Smith, REM;

Catriona Smith

Catriona (Cat) Smith has over 30 years of professional experience in the interpretation and application of regulations for industrial facilities relating to compliance, remediation and negotiations with regulatory agencies. Her clients include upstream and downstream oil and gas, chem-pharma, petrochem, manufacturing and federal, state, and local governments. Ms. Smith is a Vice President and Environmental Sector Market Director for TRC, with nationwide responsibilities to manage our clients’ PFAS challenges, support and grow our Oil and Gas clients and bring multi-disciplinary solutions to their complex projects. Contact Cat at

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