Many businesses have floor drains. Some are needed for day-to-day operations. Others are used for emergency purposes only.
It is important you know where all your floor drains go and be aware of Ohio EPA’s regulations that apply to your discharge activities. Floor drains may lead into a sanitary sewer — going directly to a public wastewater treatment plant. Other floor drains may lead to onsite sewage treatment systems like a septic tank. Sometimes, floor drains lead directly to an underground holding tank or discharge to a waterway or to the ground outside. Ohio EPA’s water pollution control regulations apply to all of these activities.
Discharges to a Wastewater Treatment Plant
A business that discharges industrial wastewater directly to a publicly owned treatment works (POTW) or local municipality is subject to wastewater regulations, so treatment may be required before it is discharged. If your floor drains discharge to a POTW, you must contact and discuss your activities with them, since you may be required to obtain a permit from the POTW for the discharge. If the POTW does not have an approved pretreatment program, a permit may be needed from Ohio EPA.
Discharges to Waters of the State
Any company that wants to discharge industrial wastewater to waters of the state needs to get a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from Ohio EPA. Examples of waters of the state include streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, other waterways, wells and springs. The NPDES permit typically includes discharge limits and other requirements such as record-keeping, reporting and monitoring. Other conditions of the NPDES permit can require a company to treat wastewater to remove harmful contaminants before it is discharged. If your floor drains lead to any waters of the state, you must have a discharge permit from Ohio EPA.
For more information, go to Ohio EPA’s Do you know where your floor drains go? fact sheet or contact your Ohio EPA district office. Small businesses can contact the Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) at (800) 329-7518 for free, confidential assistance. OCAPP is a confidential office within Ohio EPA that helps small businesses understand and comply with environmental requirements.
Important Points to Remember...
- Your floor drain should not discharge industrial wastewater onto the ground or into an injection well system such as a dry well or septic tank. Instead, you must find another way to manage your wastewater or obtain an Underground Injection Control permit from Ohio EPA.
- Your floor drain should not discharge industrial wastewater to waters of the state if you do not have a permit. This includes discharges into storm sewers. Instead, you must find another way to manage your wastewater or obtain an NPDES permit from Ohio EPA for the discharge.
- If your floor drain discharges wastewater to a local wastewater treatment plant, make sure the treatment plant knows about this activity. You may be required to treat the wastewater prior to discharge. You may also need to get a permit.
- DO NOT put oil, solvents, paints or chemicals into a floor drain. This could contaminate your property and expose you to large fines and cleanup costs.