Ten environmental groups have petitioned the U.S. EPA to include commercial and institutional sites in the class of operations that require permitting under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”).  Currently, the Clean Water Act (“Act”) explicitly authorizes EPA to require NPDES permits for industrial and municipal discharges; however, there is no specific mention of commercial and institutional sites.

The petitioners have alleged that, while not specifically mentioned in the Act, discharges from these operations could be regulated under the catch-all provision of the Act directing the EPA to require permits for any discharge the director determines “contributes to a violation of a water quality standard or is a significant contributor to pollutants to waters of the United States.”