Pretreatment Program City of FresnoRegulating Industrial Wastewater

Fresno-Clovis Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facilities (RWRF) Pretreatment Program

The City of Fresno Wastewater Management Division helps maintain the quality of life of the community by protecting the sewer system and the wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater Management Division operates a Pretreatment Program that regulates industrial discharge at the source. The Pretreatment Program sets limitations according to the wastewater treatment facility’s needs to avoid the above problems. This is a joint effort between City and industries to control the levels of industrial contaminants entering the sewer system by permitting, inspections, monitoring, and enforcement of industries using the RWRF services. At the same time, the program increases reclamation options (treatment and reuse) for the effluent and biosolids resulting from the wastewater treatment process. The industrial/commercial component of the wastewater flow has been estimated to be approximately 15% of the total flow.

Keeping Harmful Substances Out

The goal of all pretreatment programs is to keep harmful substances out that could:
• Damage sewer systems and treatment plant structures
• Interfere with treatment operations
• Jeopardize worker safety by exposure to chemical hazards
• Reduce reclamation options due to contaminated effluent and biosolids
• Result in violations of the treatment facilities’ own Waste Discharge Requirements
• Add maintenance, repair, operational and disposal costs to the treatment of wastewater

Wastewater Discharge Permits

Preliminary inspections and other guidelines such as the amount of flow, impacting characteristics of the wastewater, type of process, and federal regulations are taken into consideration to determine if a business is required to have a Wastewater Discharge Permit.

Fresno is a city with a variety of industries with diverse discharge characteristics. Wastewater Discharge Permits are issued to:

  • Packing Houses
  • Industrial
  • Laundries
  • Rendering Facilities
  • Wineries
  • Tortilla Manufacturers
  • Poultry Processors
  • Bottling Companies
  • Food Processors
  • Electroplaters
  • Cardboard Box Manufacturers
  • Metal Finishers
  • Hospitals
  • Slaughter Houses
  • Industrial Bakeries

Permits to discharge into the sewer contain a series of administrative requirements and discharge conditions that the users must comply with at all times. Permits are given for a specific time and are tailored to each user. Monitoring of industrial users is established depending on their impact to the RWRF.

Enforcement Actions

The Wastewater Management Division is tasked as the enforcement authority for the pretreatment program. Regulations are enforced through actions that could escalate from simple Warning Notices to Cease and Desist Orders if discharges constitute a public health and safety issue. Compliance through pollution prevention measures instead of enforcement actions is highly preferred. Increasing facility inspections have played an active role in improving communication with industries and the overall compliance rate in the last five years. The protection of the RWRF and the environment is achieved through a partnership between government and industry.

Evaluation of this Program

Introduction of metals to the RWRF has decreased since the implementation of the Pretreatment Program in 1983. Since its implementation in 1983, the Pretreatment Program has successfully reduced regulated pollutants discharged to the RWRF by more than 50%. The ability to use the effluent to irrigate non-food crops, and the use of biosolids as a compost ingredient is a clear indication of the effectiveness of the Program. The most recent audit by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board commended our Program as effective and consistent with federal requirements. The City of Fresno’s Pretreatment Program will continue to meet the challenges of improving performance, promoting pollution prevention, educating dischargers, and enforcing regulations to keep pollutants from impacting the RWRF performance.