Pretreatment Program

The City of Burlington is committed to actively enforcing all State and Federal regulations regarding the pretreatment of industrial waste discharged into the City’s wastewater collection system. The importance of pretreatment cannot be overemphasized as these measures were adopted to protect waste treatment facilities, and more importantly, our environment, from the damage which can occur when concentrated waste is released into sewer systems.

The State of North Carolina’s Pretreatment Regulations apply to all industrial water users in the State regardless of any other Federal, State or local pretreatment standards that require industrial user compliance. These standards are intended to prohibit the discharge of pollutants, which are
  • Corrosive
  • Create a fire or explosion hazard
  • Obstruct flow in the sewer system or otherwise interfere with its operation
  • Upset the treatment processes
  • Cause the City’s effluent to be in violation of State and/or Federal standards
  • Increase the temperature of wastewater entering the treatment plant to above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius

The City of Burlington also has the authority to develop local limits (through a process known as a “headworks analysis”) for each industry whose effluent is treated by the City’s wastewater treatment facilities. These limits allow the City to set the maximum amount of metals, solids, ammonia and other pollutants an industry may introduce into the sewer system for processing.

It is important that industries become aware of these standards and implement measures that will ensure compliance. City personnel are available to answer any questions you may have regarding discharge permits, inspections or general questions regarding pretreatment regulations.

Additional information may be obtained by calling the Pretreatment Compliance Specialist at (336) 222-5133.

What is a Discharge Permit and who must obtain one?
All significant industrial water users must obtain a permit to discharge wastewater into the City’s sewer system. A significant industrial water user under the City of Burlington’s pretreatment program is defined as any industry:
  1. that discharges a daily average of 25,000 gallons of process wastewater into the City’s sewage system.
  2. is classified as a categorical industry by Federal regulations.
  3. that contributes 5% or more of any design capacity of the wastewater treatment plant which receives the discharge.
  4. whose wastewater is determined to adversely impact the wastewater treatment plant, receiving stream, or limit the sludge disposal options of the City.

How can a Discharge Permit be obtained?
A Discharge Permit may be obtained from the City of Burlington through compliance with the following procedures:
  1. An industrial user must complete and submit an application for a permit to discharge. This application requests specific information about the industry’s processes and facilities. This information is outlined in the City of Burlington’s Sewer Use Ordinance, a copy of which may be obtained from the City’s Department of Utilities.
  2. The completed application must be submitted to the City’s Pretreatment Compliance Specialist Email, who will acknowledge its receipt and verify its completeness.
  3. Once the application is determined to be complete, an inspection of the facility must be conducted. If the facility is to be built, written approval of the plans (Authorization to Construct) must be obtained prior to construction.
  4. After completion of the application and inspection of the facility, the City’s pretreatment staff will draft a pretreatment permit that will include any effluent limitations, prohibitions or special conditions deemed necessary.
  5. The City must send a draft of the permit, along with an explanation as to how the effluent limitations were derived, to the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) for approval. During this time a temporary permit may be issued to the industrial user. Both the State and the industrial user have 30 days in which to comment on the conditions of the permit. If no objections are raised the pretreatment coordinator may issue the final permit. If NCDENR objects to the permit, the City must respond to these objections within 60 days.
  6. Once the final permit is issued, the industry must adhere to all conditions. An application for permit renewal must be made 180 days prior to expiration. Modifications to the permit can be made either by reopening the permit or at the time of renewal.

NOTE: Some Federal regulations require information on categorical processes to be submitted 180 days prior to discharge. Even then, acceptance of the wastewater is not guaranteed. Industries considering locating in Burlington or desiring to connect to the Burlington wastewater collection system should investigate the wastewater collection and treatment requirements prior to a final decision regarding the purchase or construction of facilities.

How often must a Discharge Permit be renewed?
Unless special conditions prevail, permits are issued for five years.

Under what conditions may a Discharge Permit be revoked?
The City of Burlington may revoke a Discharge Permit when any of the following violations are found:
  • When a user fails to factually report wastewater composition or discharge characteristics.
  • When a user fails to report significant changes in operations, wastewater composition and characteristics.
  • When a user refuses to grant City personnel reasonable access to facilities for the purpose of inspection and/or monitoring.
  • When a user violates the conditions of the permit.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources offers assistance to industrial water users who wish to explore ways to minimize wastes or recycle by-products generated through the manufacturing process. This assistance may be obtained by contacting the Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance Office at 919-715-6500 or 800-763-0136-7015 or by writing to:
Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
1639 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1639

Remember, the goal of the pretreatment program is to protect and preserve our environment. Working together, we can ensure that North Carolina will continue to have clear-running rivers and streams, teaming with life, to supply quality drinking water to our cities and towns and for future generations to enjoy. 

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