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Developments in NPDES Permitting

Fredric P. Andes, Water Quality & Wetlands Regulation and Management in the Development of Natural Resources (2002)

Over the last few years, there have been several significant changes in the requirements that apply to holders of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Further changes are coming in the next several years. In general, these changes mean that wastewater dischargers, including mine operators, will be subject to additional effluent control requirements. These requirements can lead to substantially compliance costs, running into millions of dollars for some individual operations. Also, operators can be faced with constraints on new and increased discharges, which will constrain economic growth and opportunities to expand and modify facilities to respond to business needs. While some impacts on operations may be inevitable, it is possible to minimize these risks through careful planning in advance. In some cases, those companies may derive substantial economic advantages over those that do not avail themselves of the significant opportunities that will be presented.

Much attention has been paid lately to one of the programs under the Clean Water Act: the “total maximum daily load” or TMDL program under Section 303(d) of the Act.1 This program has generated considerable controversy, largely because it is perceived that this program will lead to control requirements for agricultural operations and other “nonpoint” sources that have not been regulate