About the Industrial Waste Section

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the Sanitation Districts’ pretreatment program on March 27, 1985. Prior to this formal approval, the Sanitation Districts had established an industrial source control program with the following objectives: (1) to enhance the Sanitation Districts' treatment plants’ ability to comply with effluent discharge requirements; (2) to protect the public, the environment, Sanitation Districts’ personnel, and Sanitation Districts’ facilities from potentially harmful industrial wastes; and (3) to ensure that industrial users pay their fair share of treatment operations and maintenance costs. To help achieve these objectives, in 1972, the Sanitation Districts adopted the Wastewater Ordinance which provides the legal authority to enforce the Sanitation Districts’ local requirements as well as state and federal regulations. 

The Sanitation Districts’ pretreatment program has been fully implemented for many years. The Sanitation Districts now regulate a diverse industrial base consisting of approximately 2,300 industrial users (in 2011). In 2011, these industries included approximately 1,060 Significant Industrial Users (SIUs), among which approximately 435 are included in the federal categorical pretreatment program in 22 different categories. Due to the large number of industrial users and the diversity of the industrial base, the Sanitation Districts’ pretreatment program has been enhanced through the use of computer-automated permitting, inspection, and compliance programs that allow for tracking, assessment, notification, and enforcement of applicable regulations.

Sanitation Districts’ industrial users are required to obtain Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permits. Permit applications are reviewed by engineering staff to determine if the pretreatment equipment proposed is adequate to meet appropriate discharge limits, and to determine compliance with the Sanitation Districts’ spill containment, flow monitoring, rainwater diversion, and combustible gas monitoring policies, as well as, local limits and federal categorical standards. Industrial users discharging without a valid permit are issued a temporary permit, which serves as a control mechanism for the user until a standard permit can be obtained. The temporary permit provides the discharger with notification of the Sanitation Districts’ effluent limitations and tentative federal categorical determination, and can be revoked at any time if the discharger fails to comply with the Sanitation Districts’ requirements.

The Sanitation Districts maintain an active monitoring program to ensure continued compliance by its industrial users. Sampling for compliance purposes is conducted by both the industrial waste monitoring crew and industrial waste inspectors. The monitoring crew is devoted solely to sampling and obtains both grab and composite samples, while the inspectors collect grab samples in conjunction with on-site inspections of industrial equipment and wastewater sources. The Sanitation Districts can also perform surveillance monitoring aimed at facilitating the detection of actual and potential problems caused by the illegal discharge of prohibited materials. 

The Sanitation Districts also maintain an extensive field inspection program, which includes visiting industrial facilities to investigate their compliance status, identifying industrial sources responsible for treatment plant upsets or incidents, and disseminating information on the pretreatment program to industrial users. A night inspection crew enhances the Sanitation Districts’ capability to monitor industrial dischargers and to respond to upset conditions caused by toxic discharges to the sewer during all hours of the day or night.

Industrial users that are found through inspection or monitoring to be out of compliance are subject to aggressive enforcement action by the Sanitation Districts. Standardized enforcement procedures have been developed to achieve timely and effective compliance. The Sanitation Districts also are an active member of the Los Angeles County Environmental Crimes Strike Force and the Federal Environmental Crimes Task Force, which coordinate hazardous waste law enforcement for more than a dozen agencies, including actions against illegal sewer dischargers.

The Sanitation Districts’ pretreatment program has achieved significant reductions in the discharge of heavy metals, toxic organics, and other pollutants to the Sanitation Districts’ wastewater treatment plants, and in the mass of pollutants released to the environment. Environmental benefits include reduced air emissions, the production of exceptional quality biosolids that can be beneficially used, production of treated wastewater that consistently meets standards for reuse, and an increased diversity of marine organisms in the receiving environment. Detailed information on these achievements can be found in the Sanitation Districts’ Annual Reports.