What are individual and general permits?

What is the difference between major and minor NPDES facilities?

What is the difference between the WM05, WM06, WM07, and WM15 designations?

How do I apply for an individual NPDES permit?

Do I need to apply to MassDEP for general permit coverage?

How do I apply for coverage under NPDES general permits for stormwater (MS4, MSGP, and Construction)?

How do I apply for coverage under other NPDES general permits?

How do I submit Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) forms?

Glossary of NPDES terminology

What are individual and general permits?

Whenever a municipality, industry, or other entity wishes to discharge pollutants to a surface water of the United States, they must first obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the permitting authority and NPDES permits are typically co-issued by EPA and the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). NPDES permits regulate wastewater discharges by limiting the quantities of pollutants to be discharged and imposing monitoring requirements and other conditions. The limits and/or requirements in the permit ensure compliance with the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards and Federal Regulations, all of which were written to protect public health and the aquatic environment.

An individual permit is specifically tailored to the site-specific conditions of a single discharger. After receipt of a complete application, the permitting authority develops a permit for a particular facility based on the information contained in its application (e.g., type of activity, nature of discharge, receiving water quality). The permitting authority issues the permit to the facility for an effective period not to exceed five years.

A general permit is not tailored to a specific facility but rather written to cover multiple dischargers with similar operations and types of discharges. Once issued, dischargers may request coverage, consistent with the permit eligibility and authorization provisions. Dischargers covered under general permits know their applicable requirements before obtaining coverage under that permit. In order to request coverage an applicant must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA and may also, depending on circumstances described below, need to apply to MassDEP.

What is the difference between major and minor facilities?

The designation of major and minor facilities is determined by EPA. For POTWs, major facilities are generally those with a design flow of 1 MGD or greater, or have an industrial pretreatment program. Some smaller facilities may be designated as major for other reasons. For non-POTWs, major facilities are those that score 80 or more points on the NPDES Permit Rating Sheet. Facilities that have questions about their major or minor status should contact EPA or MassDEP (see contact information in next question below).

What is the difference between the WM05, WM06, WM07, and WM15 designations?

For those applicants required to submit an individual permit application or general permit NOI to MassDEP, the MassDEP Transmittal Form must also be submitted. In Section A of the MassDEP Transmittal form, Permit Information, item 1 is Permit Code. The codes and associated fees are as follows (Note that payment does not apply if exempt):

Application Fees:

WM05, Major NPDES Surface Water Discharge Permits: $6,785

WM06, Minor NPDES Surface Water Discharge Permits: $3,170

WM07, Modification to NPDES Permit: $985

WM15, NPDES General Permit (Not required for all applications): $500

WM05 and WM06 facilities are also charged an annual compliance fee. These fees do not apply to WM15 facilities. The codes and associated fees are as follows (Note that payment does not apply if exempt):

Annual Compliance Fees:

WM05, Major NPDES Surface Water Discharge Permits: $10,800

WM06, Minor NPDES Surface Water Discharge Permits: $1,830

How do I apply for an individual NPDES permit?

Individual permits require submittal of applications to both EPA Region 1 and MassDEP. Instructions for submitting both applications are located here: Surface Water Discharge (NPDES) Individual Permit Application .

Questions related to industrial discharges should be directed to Cathy Vakalopoulos, 617-348-4026 or catherine.vakalopoulos@state.ma.us, or Xiaodan Ruan, 617-654-6517 or xiaodan.ruan@state.ma.us
Questions related to non-industrial discharges should be directed to Claire Golden, 978-694-3244 or claire.golden@state.ma.us, or Jennifer Wood, 617-654-6536 or jennifer.wood@state.ma.us.

Do I need to apply to MassDEP for general permit coverage?

For the most part, general permits are administered by EPA, require submission of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA, and do not require an application to MassDEP. However, there are some circumstances that require submittal to both MassDEP and EPA. The following situations require applicants to submit a MassDEP transmittal form, a copy of the EPA’s NOI, payment (unless exempt), and any other required submittals to MassDEP:

  • Construction General Permit (CGP) with discharge to Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW);
  • Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Permit;
  • Publicly Owned Treatment Works General Permit (POTW GP);
  • Potable Water Treatment Facilities General Permit (PWTF GP) for first time applicants that also discharge to an ORW and High Quality Waters; 
  • Remediation General Permit (RGP) with discharge to ORW waters;
  • Dewatering General Permit (DGP) with discharge to Class A or Class SA Waters;
  • Hydroelectric Generating Facilities General Permit (Hydro GP) with discharge to ORW waters.

Instructions for these submittals are available here: WM 15 - NPDES General Permit Notice of Intent (replaces former permit codes WM 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14) . Questions should be directed to the MassDEP staff listed below.

How do I apply for coverage under NPDES general permits for stormwater?

For the most part, general permits are administered by EPA, require submission of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA, and do not require an application to MassDEP. Each of the stormwater general permits administered by EPA is listed below, with links to the EPA websites providing contact information and instructions on how to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI).

Construction General Permit (CGP)

Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP)

Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Permit

In addition, the following applicants applying for coverage must also submit a complete copy of EPA’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to MassDEP, along with a MassDEP transmittal form, payment (unless exempt), and any other required submittals:

  • Those applying for coverage under the CGP with discharge to an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW)
  • All those applying for coverage under the MS4 Permit

Instructions for submittal of stormwater general permits to MassDEP are available here: WM 15 - NPDES General Permit Notice of Intent (replaces former permit codes WM 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14) .

Questions should be directed to Fred Civian, 617-292-5821 or frederick.civian@state.ma.us.

How do I apply for coverage under other NPDES general permits?

For the most part, general permits are administered by EPA and do not require an application to MassDEP. Each of the non-stormwater general permits administered by EPA is listed below, with links to the EPA websites providing contact information and instructions on how to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI).

Dewatering General Permit (DGP)

Hydroelectric Generating Facilities General Permit (HYDROGP)

Noncontact Cooling Water General Permit (NCCW GP)

Pesticide General Permit (PGP)

Potable Water Treatment Facilities General Permit (PWTF GP)

Publicly Owned Treatment Works General Permit (POTW GP)

Remediation General Permit (RGP)

Vessel and Small Vessel General Permits (VGP and sVGP)

In addition, the following applicants applying for coverage must also submit a complete copy of EPA’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to MassDEP, along with a MassDEP transmittal form, and payment (unless exempt):

  • All those applying for coverage under the POTW GP;
  • All those applying for coverage under the PWTW GP for the first time and also discharge to an ORW and High Quality Waters.
  • Those applying for coverage under the RGP with discharge to an ORW
  • Those applying for coverage under the DGP with discharge to an ORW

Instructions for submittal of stormwater general permits to MassDEP are available here: WM 15 - NPDES General Permit Notice of Intent (replaces former permit codes WM 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14) .

Questions should be directed to the MassDEP staff listed below.

How do I fill out Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) forms?

Instructions are provided here.

Glossary of NPDES terminology

From US EPA.