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Guide to Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permits and Fees

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Environmental Services issues permits to industries based on the quality and volume of their wastewater discharges. The permits require industries to treat wastewater to meet pollutant limits, monitor for pollutants, submit compliance reports, and follow other requirements outlined in their permits.
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What is Industrial Pretreatment?

Pretreatment reduces the pollutants in wastewater from industrial and commercial facilities. Portland issues pretreatment permits with pollutant discharge limits based on federal and local code and rules. Industries may be required to install and use wastewater treatment systems to meet set pollutant limits. Examples of treatment include: pH neutralization, solids separation, metals precipitation, and oil-water separation.

The City’s Role

The City of Portland maintains National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for its two sewage treatment facilities – the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The permits require the City to manage wastewater discharges from businesses, institutions, and industries in an effort to protect the treatment plants, public health, and the environment.

Environmental Services Industrial Pretreatment Program works with commercial and industrial customers to control discharges of harmful pollutants to the environment to protect public health, water resources, and Portland's sewer treatment system.

Rules and Regulations

Does My Company Need a Permit or Authorization?

The first step in determining if your company needs a permit to discharge wastewater to the sanitary sewer is to complete an Industrial and Commercial Environmental Survey and submit the survey to the City. Environmental Services will review the completed survey and notify the business:

Businesses that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of a Significant or Categorical Industrial User must complete and submit the Environmental Survey and an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit Application concurrently.

Complete the Industrial and Commercial Environmental Survey

Apply for an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit

Permit Types

Significant Industrial Users (SIU) permits are issued to industries that meet the criteria established in PCC 17.34.070(A)(2). Categorical Industrial User (CIU) permits are a type of SIU permit for specific industrial sectors that are in EPA’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40 Part 405-471.

Non-Significant Industrial Users (NSIU) permits are issued to industries that discharge less than 25,000 gallons per day to the sewer system and have regulated pollutants at levels that may cause problems in the sewer system or treatment plant.

Non-Discharging Categorical Industrial Users (NDCIU) permits are issued to industries that are listed in the EPA’s Code of Federal Guidelines (CFR) Title 40 Part 405-471 but do not discharge regulated pollutants to the sanitary sewer system.

Program and Permit Fees

Industrial wastewater discharge permit fees assess the costs to manage permits and ensure each permitted industry pays for its share of the Industrial Pretreatment Program’s costs. The fees help recover costs for application reviews, permit issuance, inspections, industry wastewater sampling, compliance report reviews, enforcement actions, and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit fees.

Fees by Permit Type

July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024

Fee TypeSIUCIUNSIUNDCIU
Base Fee$3,235$3,880$1,850$275
Monitoring CostsVariableVariableVariableN/A
Enforcement CostsVariableVariableVariableVariable
DEQ Fee$817$817N/AN/A

How Fees are Determined

The Permit Fee methodology consists of the following components:

  • Base Fee — This fee is based on permit type: CIU, SIU, NSIU, or NDCIU
  • Compliance Monitoring Costs — These are the actual costs for Environmental Services staff to sample and analyze an industry's wastewater.
  • Enforcement Costs — This fee will be based on Environmental Services’ costs to administer each enforcement action. Note: this is different from enforcement action penalties that are issued for violations of a permit requirement.
  • DEQ Permit Fee — If applicable, the annual DEQ-permit fee will be added for categorical and significant industrial users.

The base fee will change each year. Compliance monitoring costs should remain consistent during an industry’s 5-year permit cycle. Enforcement costs will depend on each permittee’s compliance history in the previous year. Fewer violations could mean lower costs.

Miscellaneous Fees

Extra Strength Sewer Charges — Certain industries and businesses may discharge wastewater with higher levels of certain pollutants which costs more for the city to treat. The City recovers the extra costs to treat “high strength” wastewater. More information can be found in ENB-4.25 Extra Strength Charge Program Administrative Rules.

Alternative Discharge Authorization Types

After reviewing a submitted Industrial and Commercial Environmental Survey, Environmental Services may determine that an alternative authorization discharge application is required. There are three alternative discharge authorization types.

  1. Alternative Discharge Control MechanismsADCMs are typically issued to industries like dentistry and mobile washing that regularly discharge to the sanitary sewer and typically require the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) and annual recertification. ADCM fee for FY 2023-24 and FY 2024-25 are $170 per year.
  2. Batch Discharge AuthorizationsBatch discharge authorizations are issued to businesses or projects that need to discharge to the sanitary sewer or, in rare cases, to the stormwater system. Discharges are limited in volume and duration and are often for specific or infrequent operations.
  3. Construction Dewatering Permits: Businesses may request temporary discharges of groundwater and/or impounded stormwater generated from construction or demolition activities to the City’s storm, sanitary, or combined sewer system. Typically permits for construction dewatering activities are obtained when a business goes through the City Development Process.