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
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.