Water Quality Permits

​Overview

The 900-J General Permit regulates wastewater discharges for most seafood processing facilities in Oregon. DEQ must periodically update this permit, known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permit, to protect water quality and meet requirements of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

DEQ has updated the 900-J Seafood Processing Permit, and issued the new permit on Oct. 1, 2020, with an effective date of Oct. 2, 2020. Now that DEQ has issued the 900-J permit, seafood processors wanting coverage under this permit can review the permit and work with DEQ to update applications on file or file new applications for coverage. Seafood processors will have until October 2021 to submit a complete application to DEQ for coverage under the permit. Processors have coverage under their current permit until DEQ has granted coverage under the new permit.

Prior to issuing the new permit, a draft of the updated 900-J permit was put out for public comment in 2018. DEQ considered the comments submitted along with the regulatory objectives of updating the permit to be protective of human health and the environment. Based on the comments DEQ received on the draft 900-J permit in 2018, DEQ revised the permit and opened an additional comment period in 2019. DEQ reviewed comments from the 2019 public comment period and incorporated comments into the final version of the permit.

 

Why did DEQ need to update its wastewater permit for seafood processing?

  • DEQ adapted its permit coverage to respond to changes in industry practices and water quality to ensure facilities are meeting state and federal requirements.
  • DEQ can’t cover new applicants under the expired permit. Renewing the permit will allows new applicants to apply for coverage.

What are the environmental benefits?

  • An updated permit will allow DEQ and seafood processors to more effectively protect Oregon’s waters for fishing, swimming, shellfish production and other beneficial uses. 

  • Wastewater from seafood processing operations can contain pollutants such as organic material, bacteria and ammonia that can be harmful to aquatic life.

How will the permit renewal affect businesses?

  • In some cases, facilities may need to upgrade to more advanced wastewater treatment systems.

  • General permits are intended for businesses that produce small, consistent wastewater discharges. Some processors may consider moving from the general permit to an individual permit because of the unique nature or complexity of their operations, allowing DEQ to tailor permit requirements to the specific needs of the facility and local waterways.

  • In cases where a facility is not eligible for coverage under the general permit, or the facility is unable to comply with the permit conditions, DEQ may direct facilities to apply for individual permit coverage.

What has changed since the original draft permit was available for public comment in 2018?

  • Monitoring and reporting requirements have been updated. 

  • Regulations for wastewater discharges to impaired waterways have been further clarified.

  • Bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine limits have been replaced by monitoring and reporting requirements. Benchmarks are set and if the processor exceeds the benchmarks, they must create and implement a plan to control the pollutant that exceeded the benchmark.

  • Data on bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine will used to assess the need for permit limits when the permit is renewed next.

  • Because DEQ is not proposing new limits for bacteria, temperature, ammonia and chlorine, the originally proposed schedule for complying with these limits has been removed.

​Contact

Tim McFetridge, 503-378-4995


Resources

DEQ Memo: Recommendations on Measuring Chlorine and Ammonia