Water quality based permits are important because they mean the proof is in the pudding so to speak. The line below in red is copied from the NPDES Permit for the City of Brockton. This same line is in each and every permit because the law demands it. However complicated these permits may appear it all boils down to the  line below in red. A NPDES permit which allows a discharge to violate water quality standards is illegal. 

(a. The discharge shall not cause a violation of the water quality standards in the
receiving waters.)

Below are three important statements made by EPA in response to public comments submitted on a disputed NPDES Permit for the Town of Hudson Ma.

“The establishment of water quality based limits, unlike technology based limits, are not based on treatment capabilities.”

“In addition to technology based controls, permits must contain any more stringent limitations for particular pollutants that are necessary to meet MAWQS. A water quality based effluent limitation must be calculated at levels to ensure achievement of MAWQS, regardless of the availability or effectiveness of technologies or the cost dischargers would incur to meet those limits."

“Finally, The Agencies note that permits must include limits as stringent as necessary to meet Massachusetts WQS irrespective of technological feasibility.”

Our efforts in regard to the Brockton Plant were made simpler because the violations were so blatant and egregious. The important point is that EPA and MA DEP knowingly and willingly attempted to issue a NPDES Permit to Brockton which they knew was illegal. It was illegal because the permit, as written would allow the discharge to cause a violation of MAWQS in its receiving waters. This was the bases of our appeal of the Brockton NPDES Permit.