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NPDES Permitting

NPDES Public Notice Requirements


  1. Overview
  2. Individual Permits

  3. General Permits
  4. Public Hearings


I. Overview

Required Public Notices.  Proposed decisions to issue, modify, reissue, deny, or terminate an NPDES permit must be public noticed prior to the Bureau making the final decision except for minor modifications. If there are significant issues or sufficient public interest in a proposed decision, the Bureau must hold a public hearing. Public hearings must also be public noticed. The notice for a public hearing may be combined with the notice of the proposed permit decision when the Bureau is aware that a hearing is necessary.

Final permit decisions do not have to be public noticed.  Instead,  the final determination must be mailed to every person who submitted written comments or requested notice of the final decision.  If a public hearing was held, every person who signed in at the hearing is mailed a copy of the final permit decision and, even though it is not required, the final decision may also be placed in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the discharge.

Methods of Public Notice. The methods of public notice vary with the type of permit action and the permit classification as either a major permit or minor permit under EPA's rating system.  However, in all cases except public hearings, public notices must be mailed to the following persons unless specifically asking not to receive the public notice:

  • the applicant;
  • State and Federal Agencies agencies with jurisdiction over fish, shellfish,  and wildlife resources and over coastal zone management plans, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Officer,  including affecting States.  In SC, this includes the SC Department of Natural Resource, the SC Department of Archives and History, DHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and as appropriate, the State of Georgia or North Carolina;
  • the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the appropriate Council of Governments;
  • Persons on the Bureau's Mailing Lists;

In addition to mailing Public Notices to the above persons the Bureau is required to use any other method calculated to give actual notice. 

Content of Public Notices. Public notices on proposed permit issuances, reissuances, modifications, and terminations must include:

  • the name and address of the Division in the Bureau of Water that is processing the permit action,
  • name and address of the permittee,
  • a brief description of the business conducted at the facility,
  • the name, address, and telephone phone number of the permit writer,
  • a brief description of the comment procedures,
  • a brief description of the each existing or proposed discharge point and the name of the receiving water, and
  • any other information necessary to explain the action being noticed.

If a public notice is for a  proposed modification, the proposed permit modifications must be briefly explained. If the public notice is for a public hearing, the notice must give:

  • the date of previous public notices related to the permit;
  • the date, time, and place of  the hearing; and
  • a brief description of the of the nature and purpose of the hearing.

II. Individual Permits

New or Expanding Discharge. Public notices for new or expanding discharges are mailed to the persons listed in Item I. Also, public notices for new or expanding discharges are placed in newspapers of general circulation in the areas of the discharges.  Additionally, for new discharges, the Department posts the notices in four locations in the areas of the discharges.

Modification Other Than Expansion. Public notices on proposed modifications, except minor modifications, are mailed to the persons listed in Item I.  Also, public notices for major modifications of minor NPDES permits are posted in the County Court Houses of the counties where the facilities are located and the Post Offices and Town Halls of the towns nearest the discharges.  Major modifications of NPDES permits that are classified as a major NPDES permit under EPA's rating system are public noticed in newspapers of general circulation in the area of the discharge.  Please note that minor modifications do not have to be public noticed.  For more information on modifications, please visit our NPDES WEB page on Permit Modifications.

Reissuance.  All public notices on reissuances of NPDES permits are mailed to the persons listed in Item I. Also, public notices for reissuance of NPDES permits classified as majors under EPA's rating system are placed in newspapers of general circulation in the areas of the discharges. Public notices on reissuance of minor NPDES permits are posted in the County Court Houses of the counties where the facilities are located and the Post Offices and Town Halls of the towns nearest the discharges. For more information on renewals, please visit our NPDES WEB page on Permit Renewal Information.

Termination.  All public notices of termination of NPDES permits are mailed to the persons listed in Item I. Also, public notices for termination of NPDES permits classified as majors under EPA's rating system are placed in newspapers of general circulation in the areas of the discharges. Public notices on termination of minor NPDES permits are posted in the County Court Houses of the counties where the facilities are located and the Post Offices and Town Halls of the towns nearest the discharges. For more information on terminations, please visit our NPDES WEB page on Cancellations and Terminations.

III. General Permits

All public notices on General Permits are mailed to the persons listed in Item I.  However, for a new General Permit, the notice is not mailed to an applicant since there is not one.  For renewal of a General Permit, every facility that has coverage under the General Permit is mailed a copy of the renewal public notice.  Also, since the General Permits that the Bureau has issued to date cover the entire state, all public notices on General Permits are typically placed in several newspapers around the State and posted in every County Court House.  This gives notice of  the proposed General Permit decision on a State wide basis.  If, in the future, the Bureau issues a General Permit that covers a smaller geographical area, the method of public noticing that General Permit will be adjusted to give constructive notice in the area the General Permit will cover.  For example, if the Bureau issues a General Permit that is only applicable in the coastal area of the State, the notices for this General Permit will only be published in coastal newspapers and coastal County Court Houses.  For more information on General Permits, please visit our NPDES WEB page on the General Permit Program.

IV. Public Hearings

Public notices on public hearings are placed in newspapers of general circulation in the areas of the discharges.  Additionally, if a previous public notice was issued on the proposed permit decision, the public notice of the hearing will be mailed to every person who sent written comments to the Bureau.


Bureau of Water . Phone: (803) 898-4300 . Fax: (803) 898-3795 . Contact Us