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Wastewater Operations & Assistance

DEP Oversight

The Bureau of Clean Water (BCW) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities under Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law (PDF) and the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The Clean Water Program in DEP’s six regional offices is largely responsible for implementing these activities, which include:

  • Inspection of NPDES-permitted facilities with discharges to surface waters such as sewage treatment facilities, combined sewer overflows, industrial wastewater treatment facilities, industrial facilities with stormwater runoff, other industrial activities, groundwater remediation systems and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s).
  • Inspection of facilities permitted under the Clean Streams Law (“Water Quality Management” permits) that do not discharge to surface waters such as facilities that land apply sewage or industrial effluent.
  • Inspection of sewage sludge (biosolids) generators and sewage sludge and residential septage land application activities.
  • Enforcement for non-compliance with permits and/or the Clean Streams Law. (PDF)
  • Responses to environmental and public health emergencies and complaints received from the public or other agencies.
  • Compliance and technical assistance for facilities and wastewater operators.

Of these activities, inspecting NPDES-permitted facilities constitutes the largest use of resources, as Pennsylvania has over 10,000 permitted wastewater facilities. Each year BCW develops a Compliance Monitoring Strategy (PDF) (CMS) to identify objectives for completing inspections of NPDES-permitted facilities during a federal fiscal year. The CMS is transmitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

DEP generally conducts over 4,000 NPDES inspections and completes over 500 NPDES enforcement actions annually. You can review NPDES inspection, violation, and enforcement actions by visiting the Wastewater Reports page.