Industry remains a major source of water pollution in the United States and abroad. Most of this pollution is considered “point source” pollution, meaning it comes from a discernable source and is therefore more easily monitored and regulated.
These pollutants vary from the type of industrial use. For example, sawmills and lumber producing facilities will have high levels of bark, wood debris, and sediment, which in turn can reduce overall dissolved oxygen and increase turbidity. Conversely, a factory that manufactured textiles would have pollutants such as dyes, bleaches, detergents, heavy metals, etc. These in turn can lower or elevate pH and introduce toxic chemicals into water bodies. There are hundreds of different industrial activities each with their own unique pollution concerns. These disparities between different industrial activities create the need for a dynamic approach to pollutant reduction.
Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), discharge from industrial facilities must be permitted through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Utah has its own version administered by the Department of Environmental Quality that is similarly named-Utah Pollution Discharge Elimination System (UPDES). This permit sets limits on specific amounts of pollutants that industries are able to discharge into water bodies. Depending on the industry, some factories may have internal wastewater treatment plants that “clean” the water before it leaves the facility.
Without careful consideration and preparedness, some pollutants can still end up in local waterbodies as nonpoint source pollutants. To avoid this, many industries utilize Best Management Practices or BMPs to reduce these diffuse nonpoint source pollutants. These BMPs vary across industries, but a good rule of thumb is, if it has a possibility of ending up in local waterbodies (through groundwater or surface water interactions), precautions should be taken.