NPDES Wastewater Permitting

All wastewater discharges to surface waters in the State of North Carolina must receive a permit to control water pollution.  The Clean Water Act of 1972 initiated strict control of wastewater discharges with the responsibility of enforcement given to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA then created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to track and control point sources of pollution.  The primary method of control is by issuing permits to dischargers with limitations on wastewater flow and constituents.  The EPA delegated permitting authority to the State of North Carolina in 1975.

The NPDES program at the Division of Water Resources is responsible for the issuance of wastewater discharge permits.  This process includes determining the quality and quantity of treated wastewater that the receiving stream can assimilate, incorporating input from stream modeling, collaborating with Regional Office staff , and evaluation of the discharger’s location.  The NPDES program is managed by three units in the permitting section, the Industrial Permitting Branch, the Municipal Permitting Branch, and the Compliance and Expedited Permitting Branch.  

Where appropriate, the NPDES program establishes limits for flow (quantity discharged), conventional pollutants (BOD, pH, TSS, fecal coliform, oil & grease, etc.), toxicants (metals, volatile organics, etc.), and non-conventional pollutants such as ammonia and nutrients.  Delegated states have the authority to establish state water quality standards which can be more stringent than federal standards established by EPA.  For more information about the applications process and links to forms, please visit the NPDES Permitting Process page

In addition to administering the NPDES program in North Carolina, there is also the responsibility of enforcement of the discharge limitations through our Compliance program. The penalty for discharging without a permit is a fine of up to $25,000 per day. 

NPDES Staff Contacts

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Important Links

e-DMR: EPA’s Electronic Reporting Rule and how it may affect permit holders.

Precision in Discharge Monitoring Reports: Summarizes common conventions (and exceptions) for significant figures and rounding and describes their proper use in completing DMRs. Please direct questions to Mike Templeton at 919-707-3603 or

NPDES Permitting Guidance

General Permitting Guidance Pollutant-Specific Permitting Guidance Basin-Specific Permitting Guidance

Basin-Specific Permitting Guidance

Goose Creek
South Fork Catawba River Basin Color

Facility Specific Permitting Guidance NPDES Compliance Guidance Related Information

Related Information

NPDES Compliance and Enforcement Information
Stormwater Permitting Program
DEQ Customer Service Center
PERCS Unit: Sewer collection system permits and pretreatment

Land Application Unit: Non-discharge permits such as wastewater disposal systems consisting of surface irrigation, high rate irrigation, recycle or reuse.