EPA published policies and procedures for issuance of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits on May 22, 1973, and final regulations on March 18, 1976. These regulations established conditions under which separate storm sewers and concentrated animal feeding operations are considered point sources of pollution subject to NPDES permit requirements. On June 18, 1976, final regulations were published for silvicultural activities. On July 12, 1976, final regulations were published for agricultural activities that, in effect, defined irrigation return flows as an agricultural point source of pollution. However, in 1977, this definition, was changed by Public Law 95-217, which specifically excluded irrigation return flows from NPDES regulation.
The NPDES permit requirements were consolidated with those of other EPA permit programs on May 19, 1980. They are included in parts 122, 123, 124, and 125 of Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations. Except for concentrated animal feeding operations, agricultural activities are not point sources of pollution subject to NPDES permits.
Most States have been granted full NPDES permitting authority by EPA with oversight of state operations provided by EPA. Where States do not have permitting authority, a variety of arrangements for permitting have been made. They range from EPA doing all permitting to EPA issuing permits for certain categories of pollutants (or operations) and the State issuing the permits for other categories.
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