FAQs

Below are some common questions from our partners. If you can't find what you're looking for contact our Source Control department at sc@cleanwaterservices.org or 503.681.5175. 

Why does Clean Water Services require pretreatment?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has mandated the use of industrial pretreatment to keep pollutants and substances that disrupt wastewater treatment processes out of the sanitary sewer system. This requires controlling them at the source.

Clean Water Services is responsible to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and USEPA for regulating and enforcing pretreatment requirements in urban Washington County and small parts of Multnomah and Clackamas counties. Clean Water Services monitors permit compliance on a regular basis. We are required to report the facility name and type of non-compliance committed by significant violators each year.

Enforcement actions can range from a telephone call to a civic penalty and request to stop discharging. Industrial pretreatment protects water resources and promotes conservation by recovering industrial byproducts, chemicals and metals at the source. It also allows the use of clean biosolids and effluent for agriculture.

Do I need a Wastewater Discharge Permit?

If you discharge anything other than sanitary or domestic wastewater, you must contact Clean Water Services about a permit. Carwash water, lab waste, contact cooling or process wastewater all require a permit application (PDF, 534KB). The purpose of the permit application is to identify the volume and characteristics of the wastewater to be discharged into the sanitary sewer.

You will be classified as one of the following:

Significant Industrial User (SIU)

One or more of the following applies:

  • There is treated groundwater or site remediation wastewater generated.
  • 25,000 gallons or more per day of process wastewater is generated.
  • The proposed discharge is subject to categorical pretreatment standards under Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • The proposed discharge could adversely affect Clean Water Services' sanitary sewer process or to violate any pretreatment standard or requirement (PDF, 3.3MB).

CWS requires an industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit Application (PDF, 534KB) from a Significant Industrial User (SIU) at least 90 days before they wish to dispose of wastewater.

CWS will issue industrial wastewater discharge permits to SIUs where pollutants of concern are, or have the potential to be, discharged at levels that could: impact Clean Water Services, impact the environment, or affect worker health and safety.

An NDCISU is an industrial user that is considered categorical, but that discharge no process wastewater to the sanitary sewer system. You will be issued a Non-Discharger Categorical Industrial User Permit (NDCIU).

Non-significant User (NSU)

A Non-significant industrial user discharges process wastewater, but does not meet the Significant Industrial User definition. CWS may elect to issue discharge permits to Non-significant Industrial Users under a local control program.

Examples of such industries may include, but are not limited to:

  • Food processors with less than 25,000 gallons per day process wastewater
  • Metal fabricators or machine shops without surface finishing operations
  • Concrete products manufacturers and ready-mix batch plants
  • Electronic circuit board assembly, wave solder, solder reflow, board washing and testing operations without either electro-less or electrolytic plating or chemical etching or milling
  • Beverage processors including dairies, breweries and soft drink operations with less than 25,000 gallons per day process wastewater
  • Testing laboratories, either analytical or product
  • Chemical repackagers, and container recycling activities
  • Any discharger required, after review, to implement effective control of the outgoing pH of their discharged wastewater.

Best Management Practices (BMP)

CWS elects to issue a permit without the need for monthly reporting or frequent oversight.

Examples of such industries may include, but are not limited to:

  • Vehicle and equipment washing and maintenance activities
  • Electronic equipment testing (no manufacturing activities)
  • Industrial gas repackaging and vessel hydro-testing
  • Warehousing operations
  • Transfer and recycling operations
  • Small-scale food or beverage processors, who, after review, require no pH control of their wastewater discharge.
How do I get a permit?

Clean Water Services  (CWS) will supply a permit application booklet. Submission of a completed discharge permit application is required at least 90 days before discharging wastewater. CWS will review your application, and if approved, prepare a disposal permit that lists discharge and other requirements.

To request a permit, call 503.681.5175 or download a discharge permit application form (PDF, 534KB).

What are my reporting and other requirements?

Significant Industrial Users (SIUs) are required to submit reports to Clean Water Services (CWS), which are listed in your discharge permit. CWS provides assistance in completing the initial forms for these reports.

Other Requirements

  • Notification to Clean Water Services of changes in wastewater discharge, process changes or permit violations
  • Ongoing compliance with discharge permit

Possible Requirements

  • Pretreatment of process wastewater
  • Continuous flow and pH monitoring
  • Independent wastewater analysis of permit constituents

Hazardous Waste Notification 

What are the local limits?

In addition to applicable Federal pretreatment standards, dischargers must stay within limits based on local wastewater treatment plant specifics. No Significant Industrial User (SIU) is allowed to discharge wastewater containing concentrations (and/or mass limitations) of substances exceeding the limits below.

ConstituentMax Allowable (mg/L)
Arsenic 0.42
Cadmium 0.3
Chromium 19.6
Copper 4.4
Cyanide 1.5
Lead 0.7
Mercury 0.008
Nickel 2.0
Silver 0.43
Zinc 6.5
Non-polar oil & grease 100
Total Toxic Organics* N/A
pH 6.0 - 11.0

*Clean Water Services is not proposing a single local limit for these pollutants. CWS may, at its discretion, restrict or prohibit the discharge of other items of concern not mentioned here.

If the Federal pretreatment standards mentioned above are applicable, then the more stringent discharge limit will apply.

What if sanitary discharges are temporary?
What are the District's industrial fees?
  1. Industrial Discharge Permit fee - Amount varies with the type of industrial user issued the permit.
  2. Industrial Connection fees - Cover the capital costs of operating the sanitary sewer system.
  3. Monthly sewer usage fees - Based on the actual volume and characteristics of process wastewater discharges and may include high strength surcharge fees for high levels of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) or Total Suspended Solids (TSS).

You may download our complete Rates & Charges Resolution & Order (PDF, 723KB) that are set annually by our Board of Directors.

What type of permit fees are there?
  1. Significant Industrial Users (SIU)
  2. Non-Significant Users (NSU)
  3. Best Management Practice (BMP)
How are Industrial Connection fees determined?

Connection fee cost is based on the average monthly industrial process wastewater volume you plan to release into the sanitary sewer system. The calculation for industrial connection fees are based on the number of residential Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU). One industrial EDU equals 625 gallons per day.

How are monthly fees determined?

Each month you are charged for the actual amount of industrial wastewater discharged into the sanitary system, plus any high strength surcharge that applies. The units used in calculating the monthly service fee is Hundred Cubic Feet (CCF) which equals 748 gallons.

How does the high strength surcharge work?

If your waste exceeds 800 mg/L of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) or 400 mg/L of Total Suspended Solids (TSS), fees are levied in addition to actual flow charges.

How can CWS help?
  • Equipment review
  • Policies and procedures
  • Disposal options
  • Permit limitation
  • Test method
  • Pollution prevention opportunities
  • Technical assistance
  • New facility design guidance

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