Publicly Owned Treatment Works

Publicly Owned Treatment Works in the United States

Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) in Environmental Law

The name for a wastewater treatment facility owned by a government agency and operated primarily for the benefit of the surrounding community POTWs may handle only domestic wastes or they may also process both domestic and industrial wastes.

Wastes contributed by industrial users must be pretreated [see pretreatment] before they go through the POTW system. In some communities, the government may add special equipment so that the pretreatment can be done at the POTW. Otherwise, the industrial user is required to treat its wastes so that they are compatible with the capabilities of the POTW and do not simply pass through the system untreated. The POTW may enter into agreements with industrial users, fine them for not treating their wastes, or use other methods of control. Because the industrial user could easily cause the POTW to violate its permit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects the governmental authority to do whatever is necessary to make its contributing industries comply with the law.

All discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States require a permit unless some other exemption applies. Publicly owned treatment works are not exempt. They must have a permit issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. They are limited to specified types and quantities of pollutants, are required to keep records and report, and must meet the technology requirements the EPA establishes. See also Clean Water Act.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Publicly Owned Treatment Works: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Publicly Owned Treatment Works. This part provides references, in relation to Publicly Owned Treatment Works, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Publicly Owned Treatment Works by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Publicly Owned Treatment Works and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Publicly Owned Treatment Works or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Publicly Owned Treatment Works and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Publicly Owned Treatment Works. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Publicly Owned Treatment Works should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Publicly Owned Treatment Works when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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