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Industrial Wastewater User Information
Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Industrial Wastewater?

A. Industrial Wastewater is broadly stated to be any water carrying material/wastes that result from a business activity or from the development or recovery of a natural resource.

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Q. What is a Wastewater Discharge Permit?

A. Wastewater Discharge Permits (PDF) are part of a system designed to protect the sanitary sewer system and its workers, to prevent poor quality sludge, and to protect the waters receiving the treated wastewater.

Permits are issued at three levels:

  • Category One: primarily for significant volume users, users who discharge wastewater containing certain pollutants and/or users subject to specific Federal discharge laws
  • Category Three: for users who discharge otherwise safe wastewater such as restaurants
  • Category Six: for small volume dischargers of wastewater containing heavy metals or other pollutants.

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Q. Why is a permit required?

A. Legally, no business can discharge industrial wastewater to the sanitary sewer without a permit.

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Q. How long does a permit last?

A. The permit year runs from August 1 through July 31. Renewal notices are sent in May.

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Q. Do I need a Wastewater Discharge Permit?

A. Baltimore County Code requires industrial users to file an application for a Wastewater Discharge Permit (PDF). If you use water in the making of the product you sell, or in the service you provide, you probably will need a wastewater discharge permit if you put the wastewater into the sewer. Water disposed of in other ways may be subject to other State and Federal laws.

Some types of businesses that are required to have a permit are obvious, such as industrial manufacturers, restaurants and laundries. For others, the requirement is not so clear, such as dry cleaners, doctor's offices and machine shops to name a few.

The basic factors considered in deciding whether a permit is required or not are:

  • Is water used in the business for other than domestic (sanitary) purposes?
  • Is the water disposed of to the sanitary sewer?

If you answered yes to both questions a permit is most likely required.

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Q. What are the permit fees?

A The annual permit fees, effective January 1, 2010 are:

Category One $415
Category Three $180
Category Six $90

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Q. Are there additional fees?

A. All companies classified as Significant Industrial Users pay the Significant User Fee (SUF) that is computed based on the volume of wastewater discharged but can be no more than $3,200, and is in addition to the basic permit fee.

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Q. What is a Significant Industrial User?

A. Significant Industrial Users are companies that:

  • discharge at least 25,000 gallons of wastewater per average work day
  • are classified as a categorical user and have the ability to discharge toxic pollutants
  • discharge an annual average daily flow greater than five percent of the total annual average daily flow of wastewater received at the treatment plant
  • are found by the County, State or EPA to have a significant impact on the treatment plant, the quality of the sludge, the treatment plant's effluent, or emission quality, either alone or in combination with other contributing users.

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Q. Are there limits to what can be discharged into the sanitary sewer system?

A. Yes. The following list identifies those, which have had specific limits set by the treatment plant. These and other pollutants may be further limited on a case-by-case basis or be set by the Environmental Protection Agency based on industry category. If you are discharging or wish to discharge an unlisted pollutant to the sanitary sewer as part of the wastewater generated at your business, please contact the Engineering and Regulation Division of the Bureau of Utilities at 410-887-5477.

Cadmium0.21 mg/L
Chromium6.89 mg/L
Copper6.59 mg/L
Cyanide1.9 mg/L
Lead0.01 mg/L
Mercury0.01 mg/L
Nickel2.82 mg/L
Silver1.2 mg/L
Zinc17.85 mg/L
Fat/Oils100.0 mg/L
Total Toxic Organics2.13 mg/L
pH range6.0 to 10.0 pH units

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Q. Are there additional charges if these limits are exceeded?

A. If you discharge wastewater that exceeds the following test values you may be subject to Industrial Surcharge:

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) > 300 mg/L
Total Suspended Solids (TSS) > 300 mg/L
Total Phosphorus (P) > 12 mg/L
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) > 30 mg/L

Food service operations are subject to a food service surcharge, which is set at $1.1532 per 100 cubic feet of consumption effective January 1, 2010. A cubic foot of water is equal to 748 gallons.

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Q. Is there a credit if less wastewater is discharged?

A. If you do not discharge all of the water you purchase to the sanitary sewer, you may be eligible to receive a Wastewater Credit Allowance. This is a reduction in the sewer service charges assessed every July 1. You must submit water usage documentation to justify any reduction. The documentation can range from metered flow data to production information. In every case, regular submission of water use information is required to maintain the reduction. As the volume of water consumed is used for a variety of purposes, an accurate assessment of wastewater discharged is important. The annual sewer service charge, all industrial surcharges and in some cases the discharge permit fee are determined in part by the volume of water discharged.

For questions or additional information, please call the Engineering and Regulation Division of the Bureau of Utilities at 410-887-5348.

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Revised May 2, 2013


Revised April 6, 2016        

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