What is an NPDES Permit?
The acronym means National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems and the EBCI has five such permits for waters that discharge into Tribal receiving streams. The one most people are aware of is the EBCI Wastewater Treatment Plant on Old #4 Road.
These permits are written by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in Atlanta, Ga., to meet EBCI federally approved water quality standards on our streams and rivers.
The DANR Water Quality Office performs the sample collection and analysis specified by USEPA permit writers required to maintain the permits. Every week of the year our staff are collecting and analyzing NPDES permit related water samples to ensure compliance with the NPDES permits and good water quality; to protect public health and the aquatic environment. To make this happen we must produce legally defensible water quality data, which means good instrumentation calibration and Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) verified by third parties.
Therefore, the DANR Water Quality Office operates a NC State Certified Environmental Laboratory in Birdtown, which is subject to inspection by the NC Laboratory Certification Branch and USEPA. Additionally, to keep our NC Laboratory Certification every year we have to pass required tests– we analyze water samples with an unknown narrow pre– determined range of acceptable results which are then reported to the NC Laboratory Certification Branch.
Finally, not only do we monitor the NPDES permitted waters, but under a USEPA Pollution Prevention Grant we also monitor the receiving streams themselves– which also helps assess impacts from any unpermitted pollution such as sedimentation run off and the potential effects of climate change. But more about that next time…
– Mike Bolt, Water Quality Section Supervisor