Element 1 - Overview

Water Pollution Control Branch Mission

The mission of the Water Pollution Control Branch is to protect and enhance Missouri’s water quality in its rivers, lakes and streams. The program’s permitting processes conserve nature’s most vital resources, ensuring existing waterbody uses are maintained. The Missouri Clean Water Commission issues permits under state and federal laws limiting the discharge of pollutants in the state’s waters. Water quality standards, effluent regulations, and design standards are used to establish the conditions and limitations contained in permits.  Missouri’s air, land and water resources play an important role in our quality of life and health and are essential to the environmental and economic vitality of our state.

National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
The process for developing effluent limitations and schedules of compliance, required by the Clean Water Act (the Act) including the applicable Water Quality Standards, is referred to as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) controls are used in industrial, municipal, wastewater treatment plants, and stormwater discharges.

Missouri was granted NPDES implementation authority by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1974. State water pollution control operating permits, issued and enforced by the state of Missouri, are equivalent to NPDES Permits. State permits have requirements and limits on amounts of pollutants that discharged waters may contain. Permits are promulgated and issued by the Missouri Clean Water Commission under Chapter 644, RSMo. The state has primary authority under the NPDES for permitting, inspection, and enforcement activities of regulated facilities within the state.

Point and Nonpoint
Water pollution sources are generally classified as either point source or nonpoint source. Water quality can be affected by point sources, such as municipal and industrial discharges and by nonpoint sources, such as non MS4 municipal separate storm sewer system urban runoff, agricultural practices and, some construction activities. Point source discharges are required to operate under the NPDES permit program, while nonpoint source pollution is addressed in the state’s nonpoint source planning efforts. Permits issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources require that facilities meet specified limits on pollutants going into a Missouri water body.

State Implementation of NPDES
The state’s implementation authority for the federal NPDES program requires that our state regulations ensure facilities use effective treatment methods to prevent discharges causing water contamination above applicable technology and water quality standards. There are technology-based limits, water quality-based limits and effluent limits derived from applicable technology and Water Quality Standards (WQS), as well as best management practices for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activities that must be accommodated in the NPDES program. Applicable deadlines for meeting effluent requirements are part of the state operating permit. The permitted limits for treated wastewater allow discharges to state waters or, no discharge, requiring land application.

The residuals or sludge removed cannot be discharged but must be disposed of according to state  and federal regulations. The NPDES program regulations control the industrial, domestic and publicly operated treatment works. The pretreatment program for the publicly operated treatment work is a cooperative effort of federal, state and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality.

The Missouri Clean Water Commission adopts and/or modifies effluent, pretreatment and control regulations. These regulations ensure that facilities use effective treatment methods to prevent water pollution from each significant or potentially significant source. These same regulations limit or prevent the introduction of water contaminants into publicly-owned treatment works throughout the state as required under the Clean Water Act. The Commission may modify such regulations from time to time.