Land application of effluent from wastewater treatment facilities began in South Carolina in the early 1970s. Over the years the program evolved to include the permitting of sludge and septage land application.
At first, a wastewater construction permit was the only permit required for a land application system. In 1985, SC Regulation 61-68, Water Classifications and Standards, was amended to include ground water as waters of the State. Also, standards for the quality of ground water were established at that time.
In accordance with Section 48-1-100 of the SC Pollution Control Act and Section 67.300 of SC Regulation 61-67, Standards for Wastewater Facility Construction, a proposed wastewater treatment facility with effluent disposal by land application is required to obtain a discharge permit before a construction permit can be issued to build the facility. The ground water discharge permit is the State Land Application permit. These permits are also known as ND permits since there is no direct discharge (ND) to surface waters.
Today, the Land Application Permit Program addresses land application of wastewater treatment plant effluent, non hazardous sludge, and septage. The Bureau of Water is responsible for the permitting, compliance, monitoring, and enforcement activities of the program. Sludge that is characterized as hazardous is regulated by DHEC's Bureau of Land and Waste Management.
Persons with discharges to ground water are required to have State Land Application Permits. Typical effluent land application systems include:
If a wastewater facility that generates waste sludge discharges to surface waters, the method of sludge disposal or use is normally addressed in the NPDES permit rather than a separate Land Application Permit. Facilities that land apply both their effluent and sludge are normally issued one Land Application Permit for both activities. For more information on the use or disposal of sludge from wastewater treatment facilities with surface or ground water discharges, please visit our Sludge ProgramWEB page.
Industrial pretreatment facilities that land apply waste sludge are required to have State Land Application Permits for the sludge land disposal. These facilities must receive a State Land Application Permit for sludge disposal before a construction permit can be issued on the wastewater pretreatment system.
Agricultural facilities land apply manure and litter as fertilizer for growing crops. However, agricultural facilities are not permitted under the Land Application Permit Program. Rather, they are regulated under the State Agricultural Permit Program. For information on agricultural facilities, please visit our WEB page on the Agricultural Program.
Also, all facilities that use injection for emplacement of fluid into the subsurface or groundwater by means of a well are regulated by the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program rather than the Land Application Permit Program. The UIC program issues Permits to Construct and Permits to Operate to these facilities. For more information on the UIC Program, please visit our WEB page on the "Underground Injection Control Program."
While General Permits are allowed under this program, presently no Land Application General Permits have been issued. Ground water dischargers are, therefore, issued individual Land Application permits. All draft permits are public noticed. When there is sufficient public interest or significant issues, a public hearing will be held prior to a final permit decision. SC has about 170 active individual Land Application Permits.
To ensure protection of water quality, Land Application permits may contain:
The "Water Facilities Permitting Division " is responsible for issuing Land Application Permits for industrial facilities, federal facilities, municipalities, state owned facilities, commercial facilities, and private non-industrial systems including septage facilities. The Land Application System Permit Program, Wastewater Construction Permit Program, the NPDES Permit Program, the Pretreatment Program, the Satellite Sewer System Program, and the Sludge Program are integrated into a comprehensive water pollution control program on transportation, treatment, and disposal or use of wastewater and sludge.
Wastewater facilities and land application sites are routinely monitored by the EQC Regional Offices for compliance with their Land Application permits. Dischargers are assisted by the Bureau and EQC Regional Offices in achieving and maintaining compliance with their permits. Enforcement actions are used by the Bureau when necessary to attain compliance with permits, water quality standards, and State and Federal Laws and Regulations.
Bureau and Regional Staff are available to give talks and presentations on the different aspects of the Land Application Permit Program. Please send an E-mail to one of the contacts below if you are interested in arranging a presentation for a group or class.