Frequently Asked Questions

Select the plus symbol Select to receive the answer to the question. to view instructions relating to your selection. Links will guide you to further information on our website or from other sources.

Select the appropriate subject below for frequently asked questions.

NPDES Permits



Water Planning

PDFs of all DEQ water regulations, Regulations 2, 6, and 8, are available for download.

Point source is defined very broadly in the Clean Water Act. It means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, such as a pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, or container. It also includes vessels or other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged. By law, the term "point source" also includes concentrated animal feeding operations. By law, agricultural stormwater discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture are not point sources.

The term waters of the state means all streams, lakes, marshes, ponds, watercourses, waterways, wells, springs, irrigation systems, drainage systems, and all other bodies or accumulations of water, surface and underground, natural or artificial, public or private, which are contained within, flow through, or border upon this state or any portion of the state.

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) administers the CARLFP, which offers communities and sanitary water districts low interest loans for the construction of wastewater treatment and collection system improvements. The Clean Water Act (CWA) Amendments of 1987 (Pub. L. 100-4) authorizes the CARLFP program to assist public wastewater systems to finance the cost of infrastructure needed to achieve and maintain compliance with CWA requirements and to protect public health. Arkansas ACA §15-5-900 et. al. created the CARLFP.

Drinking water and septic tanks are managed through Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). If your place of business provides drinking water or if you’re planning new or improved drinking water or wastewater service through a septic tank for your facility, you may need a permit from ADH.

NPDES Permits

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

An NPDES permit will generally specify an acceptable level of a pollutant or pollutant parameter in a discharge (for example, a certain level of bacteria). The permittee may choose which technologies to use to achieve that level. Some permits, however, do contain certain generic best management practices (such as installing a screen over the pipe to keep debris out of the waterway). NPDES permits make sure that a state's mandatory standards for clean water and the federal minimums are being met.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharging of pollutants through a "point source" into a "water of the United States" without an NPDES permit. The permit contains monitoring and reporting requirements, limits on what can be discharged, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not harm water quality or people's health. In essence, the permit translates general requirements of the Clean Water Act into specific provisions tailored to the operations of each facility that discharges pollutants.

For any permitting questions, check with the Water Permits Branch.

Refer to to obtain a map with nearby water bodies identified.

NPDES permits are issued by DEQ’s Water Office. Contact the NPDES Section of the Water Office at 501-682-0622 or visit the Permits Branch.

The documents for new permits, renewals, and major modifications are listed below. (Further explanations are outlined in the applicable instructions, available on the Permit Applications Forms & Instructions page of our website.)

The NPDES permit application goes through two processes of review: the administrative review and the technical review.

The administrative review determines that the permit application contains all required attachments and signatures. An applicant will be notified if more information needs to be submitted before a final decision can be reached on the application. If only minor problems are found in the application, such as the plot plan being reduced too small, then a request is made by telephone to submit a clearer document so that the application can be complete. However, if the application contains only a minimal amount of information, then a letter is mailed to the applicant describing the deficiencies.

When an application for a new permit, a renewal, or a major modification has been determined complete, a public notice with instructions for publication is mailed to the applicant. This notice simply informs the public that the facility has submitted a permit application.

The technical review begins when an engineer is assigned the application to perform a detailed technical review of the permit application. If the application is lacking additional information to further review the application, the engineer will mail a letter to the applicant describing the deficiencies. When all information has been received and the engineer is satisfied, a draft permit is prepared.

A common cause for delay in the permit application review process is incomplete or missing forms and additional information (not requested in the application forms) necessary for permit evaluation. The following briefly identifies things you can do to expedite the permit application review process:

  1. Be clear with your requested change.
  2. Make sure all requested information is provided and all of the required application pages are submitted.
  3. Don't forget to sign and date the signature pages of the application and submit the originals.
  4. Include any necessary information, such as design calculations, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), modeling reports, PPS test data, etc.
  5. Give prompt feedback if your assigned engineer has requested additional information.
  6. Periodically call your assigned engineer and inquire about the status of your application.

Go to DEQ’s home page.

  1. Click on Databases at top of web page and scroll down to Water—NPDES Final Permits.
  2. Enter the permit number in the search form. If you don’t know the number, enter the facility name in the search field.
  3. Click on the permit number. You will see a new window that contains the permit.

Yes. You can search for draft permits at public notice.

The Clean Water Act limits the length of NPDES permits to five years. NPDES permits can be renewed (reissued) at any time after the permit holder applies. In addition, NPDES permits can be administratively extended if the facility reapplies more than 180 days before the permit expires.

Yes. The NPDES administrative procedures require that the public be notified and allowed to comment on NPDES permit applications. When EPA authorizes a state to issue NPDES permits, EPA requires that the state provide the public with this same access. Local newspapers publish public notice of proposed permitting actions. The public will have at least thirty days to review the permit and make written comments about the permit conditions. DEQ has the current applications and permits for review by the public at its headquarters and online.

If you are required to have a permit and are operating a wastewater treatment system without a permit, you may be subject to enforcement action. You should contact the Water Enforcement Branch and submit an application and all information required for permit evaluation.

The SIC code system is maintained by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor and is available for searching.

As long as the wastewater being discharged is covered by and in compliance with an NPDES permit, there are enough controls in place to make sure the discharge is safe and that humans and aquatic life are being protected. To find out if a discharge is covered by an NPDES permit, call the NPDES Section at 501-682-0622 or visit Water’s Discharge Permits.

That depends on where the wastewater from the car wash is discharged.

If the car wash wastewater is discharged to a municipal sanitary sewer system, you will not be required to obtain an NPDES permit; however, you will have to make arrangements with the municipal sewer authority before you discharge.

If the wastewater is discharged to a subsurface septic tank field line system, you will need to apply for a no-discharge permit.

If the wastewater is discharged to the surface, you will need to apply for a permit.

Yes. You must treat it or discharge it to a municipal sanitary sewer system where it will be treated. Biodegradable does not mean that it won’t cause pollution. If you discharge it to the surface, you will need to obtain an NPDES permit before commencing the discharge.


Program objectives are:

  • To prevent industrial facilities' pollutant discharges from passing through municipal wastewater treatment plants untreated;
  • To protect treatment plants from the threat posed by untreated industrial wastewater, including explosion, fire, and interference with the treatment process
  • To improve the quality of effluents and sludges so that they can be used for beneficial purposes

The National Pretreatment Program's authority comes from section 307 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (more commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act). The federal government's role in pretreatment began with the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The Act called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop national pretreatment standards to control industrial discharges into sewer systems.

The General Pretreatment Regulations were originally published in 1978 and have been updated several times (the latest changes were made on October 14, 2005). They can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations in 40 CFR Part 403.

There are two sets of standards: Categorical Pretreatment Standards and Prohibited Discharge Standards. These are uniform national requirements which restrict the level of pollutants that may be discharged by nondomestic sources to sanitary sewer systems. All publicly owned treatment works that are required to implement a pretreatment program must enforce the federal standards.

These are technology-based limitations on pollutant discharges to publicly owned treatment works promulgated by EPA in accordance with Section 307 of the Clean Water Act that apply to specified process wastewaters of particular industrial categories [see 40 CFR 403.6 and 40 CFR Parts 405- 471]. Go to and NPDES Regulations for more information.

These are standards that prohibit the discharge of wastes that pass through or interfere with publicly owned treatment works (POTW) operations (including sludge management). These are the general prohibitions. There are also specific prohibitions that prohibit the discharge from all nondomestic sources certain types of wastes that:

  1. create a fire or explosion hazard in the collection system or treatment plant,
  2. are corrosive , including any discharge with a pH less than 5.0, unless the POTW is specifically designed to handle such wastes,
  3. are solid or viscous pollutants in amounts that will obstruct the flow in the collection system and treatment plant, resulting in interference with operations,
  4. any pollutant discharged in quantities sufficient to interfere with POTW operations, and
  5. discharges with temperatures above 140°F (40°C) when they reach the treatment plant, or hot enough to interfere with biological processes.


Various methods are used to monitor NPDES permit conditions. The permit will require the facility to sample its effluent discharges and notify the state of these results monthly. In addition, the permit will require the facility to notify DEQ when the facility determines it is not in compliance with the requirements of a permit. DEQ also will send inspectors to facilities as necessary in order to determine if they are in compliance with the conditions imposed under their permits.

State laws provide DEQ with various methods of taking enforcement actions against violators of permit requirements. For example, DEQ may issue administrative orders that require facilities to correct violations and that assess monetary penalties. Also, the public can initiate an investigation that could lead to enforcement by reporting observed evidence of a possible violation or by finding a violation by reviewing facility monitoring reports, which are public documents.

Send DMRs to:

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Water, Enforcement Section
5301 Northshore Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72118-5317

Water Planning