The Bureau of Water Pollution Control (BWPC) is responsible for protecting the quality of the waters of the state from any adverse effects resulting from a discharge, i.e., any addition of a pollutant or pollutants to water (NRS 445A.345). The term "waters of the state" is defined as "all waters situated wholly or partly within or bordering upon Nevada, including: all streams, lakes ponds, impounding reservoirs, marshes, water courses, waterways, wells, springs, irrigation and drainage systems, all bodies or accumulations of water, surface and underground, natural or artificial" (NRS 445A.415).

     To maintain the quality of the state's waters, the BWPC issues permits for discharges; reviews and approves technical designs, including those for wastewater treatment facilities and subdivision plans; conducts compliance inspections of facilities; enforces permit conditions; and enforces law which prohibits unauthorized discharges.

     Nevada has a state program to protect ground water quality. The BWPC issues ground water permits (NEV permits) for activities like surface disposal, septic systems, mound septic systems, unlined ponds, overland flow, reuse and irrigation. "Zero discharge permits" are also issued in cases where a potential to discharge exists, e.g. lined ponds and tanks. Proposed projects are evaluated to ensure that the background ground water quality is not degraded or that drinking water quality standards are not violated. The BWPC views all ground water as potential drinking water.

     The BWPC also issues surface water discharge permits (NV permits). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) Has delegated responsibility to the State of Nevada to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program authorized by the Clean Water Act. The NPDES permits regulate discharges to "waters of the United States." The state issues NPDES permits for discharges to surface waters, including lakes, streams, dry washes and storm drains. The NPDES program includes stormwater runoff. All surface discharge permits are sent to E.P.A., Region IX for review before they are issued.

     Temporary permits (TNEV) may be issued for discharges pursuant to the state groundwater program when the discharge is expected to last not more than 180 days.

     A general permit (GNV or GNEV) is an "umbrella" permit for a specific, defined type of discharge. The conditions for the permit and the monitoring required are the same or similar for all entities under the permit. Entities desiring inclusion must submit a "Notice of Intent" to the BWPC for review. General permits may be revoked and the director of the division may require someone with a general permit to obtain an individual permit.

     The underground injection well program is authorized pursuant to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and has also been delegated to the state. Underground Injection Control (UIC) permits authorize subsurface discharges into a well (a conveyance that is deeper than it is wide). UIC permits (UNEV) are commonly issued for dewatering and remediation projects.

     The BWPC works closely with the Bureau of Water Quality Planning (BWQP) to ensure that the "requirements to maintain existing higher quality" standards set by the BWQP for surface waters are maintained and with other bureaus to ensure that any discharge, to either surface water or groundwater, by another bureau's clients are correctly implemented. Some projects need to be coordinated with other divisions such as drilling activities and wells to recharge an aquifer or to store or recover waters, all which are regulated by the Division of Water Resources.

     Certification is required for certain sewer-treatment plant employees. The BWPC oversees the certification program, which has been contracted to the Nevada Water Pollution Control Association (NWPCA). The BWPC sends out applications and receives completed applications and associated fees. The NWPCA conducts training and testing of sewer-treatment plant operators. The actual certification is granted by the division.

Bureau of Water Pollution Control

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