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DEQ attains primacy over state pollutant discharge program

July 7, 2021

BOISE — On Thursday, July 1, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) completed a multi-year transfer of authority from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to DEQ after gaining approval over the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) Program in 2018.

Attaining primacy is a significant accomplishment for the agency and ensures that permittees will have direct access to state permit writers who have local knowledge of Idaho’s surface waters.

It also puts Idaho in line with a vast majority of states that manage the discharge of pollutants into local waterways.

“Having the IPDES program as a state-run program allows Idaho the opportunity to control Idaho concerns and provides cities and businesses with access to staff who understand the unique nature of Idaho’s waterways,” said Mary Anne Nelson, DEQ’s Surface and Wastewater Division administrator.

“We are pleased to complete the transfer of this program to the State of Idaho,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA Region 10’s Acting Regional Administrator. “We have worked closely with IDEQ on this effort and are confident that the program will protect Idaho’s important water resources.”

The effort started in 2014 when the Idaho legislature directed DEQ to seek authorization for a state-operated program. DEQ submitted a primacy application in August of 2016 and EPA authorized the transfer of permitting authority two years later. DEQ issued the first IPDES permit in April 2019.

With the transfer of authority complete, DEQ is now responsible for permitting, compliance, inspections, and enforcement of discharge permits into Idaho waterways from industrial and municipal facilities, federal facilities, storm water systems, sewage sludge, and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pretreatment program. DEQ will also continue to work with facilities to ensure ongoing compliance and provide trainings for entities using the agency’s web-based permitting system.

EPA retains the authority to issue NPDES permits for all facilities discharging to tribal waters. 

Staff Contact
Mary Anne Nelson
Surface & Wastewater Division Administrator

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