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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Montana MPDES Permit (14-MT-b)

As authorized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. Stormwater discharge permits are required for certain activities by EPA regulations at 40 CFR § 122.26(b)(14).

The goal of the Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination system (MPDES) program is to control point source discharges of wastewater such that water quality in state surface water is protected. Levels of water quality that are required to maintain the various beneficial uses of state surface waters are set forth in the Water Quality Standards (WQS).

All point sources of wastewater discharge are required to obtain and comply with MPDES permits. The effluent limitations and other conditions for certain categories of wastewaters are required to be treated to federally-specified minimum levels based on available and achievable water treatment technologies. Additonally, effluent limits and permit conditions are established to protect beneficial uses and applicable WQS.

(DEQ MPDES Website)

Waters of the United States

The definition of waters of the United States is applicable to the NPDES permit process through 40 C.F.R. § 122.2. Waters of the United States for purposes of the Clean Water Act, 33 USC 1251 et. seq. and its implementing regulations is defined in 40 CFR 230.3(o), establishing the jurisdictional waters under the Act. The definition of waters of the United States includes all waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide; all interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; and the territorial seas; as well as all tributaries to such waters.

The definition of waters of the United States extends to certain waters associated with jurisdictional waters (see 40 CFR 230.3(o)(1)(iv) through (vii). The definition includes all impoundments of jurisdictional waters. The definition includes waters adjacent to jurisdictional waters within a minimum of 100 feet and within the 100-year floodplain to a maximum of 1,500 feet of the ordinary high water mark. The definition also includes waters with a significant nexus to jurisdictional waters including, Prairie potholes, Carolina & Delmarva bays, pocosins, western vernal pools in California, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands; and those waters within the 100-year floodplain of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial sea, as well as waters within 4,000 feet of jurisdictional waters.

The waters of the United States do not include numerous sources of water even where they otherwise meet the terms of 40 CFR 230.3(o)(1)(iv) through (vii). Generally not included are waters associated with waste treatment systems, prior converted cropland, ditches, numerous types of artificial features, groundwater, stormwater control features, and structures related to wastewater recycling (for a detailed description see 40 CFR 230.3(o)(2)).

"Waters of the United States" is defined broadly by regulation under the Clean Water Rule as developed by the EPA and USACE. The effective date for this new rule is August 28, 2015. The new rule modifies the regulatory definition to more precisely define jurisdictional waters under the CWA. In most states the rule took effect immediately, however, a number of states have initiated litigation to challenge implementation of the new rule.

On August 27, 2015, the District Court of North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction halting the implementation of the new rule (see North Dakota, et al. v. EPA, Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction). In light of the order, EPA and USACE will continue to implement the CWA through the prior regulatory definition under 40 CFR 230.3(s) in the following States: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay halting implementation of the new rule nationwide pending its own determination of its own exclusive jurisdiction to review the rule (see Ohio, et al. v. EPA, Order of Stay). If the court determines it has exclusive jurisdiction the stay will likely remain in place pending a determination on the merits of the case. The court anticipates it will make a jurisdictional determination within a few weeks of the date of its order to stay. Given this uncertainty, developers should anticipate continued litigation on this matter and continue to monitor the issue at the state and national level. The EPA provides information on the ongoing effort to implement the EPA Clean Water Rule Website.


MPDES Permit Process

14-MT-b.1 - Does the Discharge Fall Under the Criteria for MPDES General Permit?

An MPDES General Permit is a pre-existing permit for wastewater discharges associated with common activities, such as concentrated animal feeding operations and storm water discharges from construction or industrial activity. Authorizations for General Permits are issued if a facility or activity falls within the guidelines of the existing permit. The process for obtaining authorization under a General Permit is expedient and consists of application, review, and authorization within 30 days.

General Permits:

  • Construction Dewatering
  • Produced Water
  • Suction Dredges
  • Sand and Gravel
  • Domestic Sewage Treatment Lagoons
  • Disinfected Water

(See DEQ MPDES Website)


14-MT-b.2 - Certified Application for MPDES Individual Permit (Application Specific to New, Existing, or Municipal Dischargers), Fee

Individual MPDES Permits regulate wastewater discharges from point sources that do not fall under the guidelines for a General Permit. The individual permitting process is more rigorous, as individual permits address the specific conditions of the facility or activity needing authorization.


Applicants should fill out Montana Form 1 - General Information first in order to determine which EPA form the applicant should use. For new industrial or commercial dischargers use:

(See DEQ MPDES Website)


14-MT-b.3 - Review Application Materials for Completeness

The department shall examine plans and other information needed to determine whether a permit should be issued or suggest changes in plans as a condition to the issuance of a permit.

(MCA 75-5-402)


The department shall review for completeness all applications for new permits within 60 days of the receipt of the initial application.

(MCA 75-5-403(1))


14-MT-b.4 - Is the Application Complete?

An application is considered complete unless the applicant is notified of a deficiency within the appropriate review period.

(MCA 75-5-403(1))


14-MT-b.5 - Written Notice to Developer

The initial completeness notice must note all major deficiency issues, based on the information submitted. The department and the applicant may extend these timeframes, by mutual agreement, by not more than 75 days.

If the department denies an application for a permit or modifies a permit, the department shall give written notice of its action to the applicant or holder and the applicant or holder may request a hearing before the board, in the manner stated in 75-5-611, for the purpose of petitioning the board to reverse or modify the action of the department. The hearing must be held within 30 days after receipt of written request. After the hearing, the board shall affirm, modify, or reverse the action of the department. If the holder does not request a hearing before the board, modification of a permit is effective 30 days after receipt of notice by the holder unless the department specifies a later date. If the holder does request a hearing before the board, an order modifying the permit is not effective until 20 days after receipt of notice of the action of the board.

(MCA 75-5-403)


14-MT-b.6 - MPDES Individual Permit

14-MT-b.7 - Application for MPDES General Permit (Application Specific to Activity), Fee

The developer should apply for the applicable general permit based on the parameters listed in the "General Permit" link under each activity. If the developer's activity falls outside the descriptions of the any of the General Permits, the developer must apply for an individual permit.

Construction Dewatering:

Produced Water:

Suction Dredges:

Sand and Gravel:

Domestic Sewage Treatment Lagoons:

Disinfected Water:


14-MT-b.8 - Review Application Materials for Completeness

The department shall examine plans and other information needed to determine whether a permit should be issued or suggest changes in plans as a condition to the issuance of a permit.

(§ 75-5-402 MCA)

The department shall review for completeness all applications for new permits within 60 days of the receipt of the initial application.

(§ 75-5-403(1) MCA)

14-MT-b.9 - Is the Application Complete?

An application is considered complete unless the applicant is notified of a deficiency within the appropriate review period.

(§ 75-5-403(1))


14-MT-b.10 - MPDES General Permit




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Edit Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Remediation Division Administrator
406.841.5001
JChambers@mtabbazabbagov
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