Regulatory Affairs

Shannon Dunne, Senior Assistant Director

Regulatory Affairs Section

This section coordinates all communication with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and other regulatory agencies, manages the permits for all Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) with TCEQ and manages all POTW related samples (more than 100,000 samples per year). It also manages the Pretreatment and Industrial Wastewater Service Program.

Pretreatment and Industrial Wastewater Section

For more than three decades, the Industrial Wastewater Section (IWS) has worked to protect the City's wastewater treatment plants (and thus the state waters) by regulating industrial wastes that are discharged to the City's sanitary sewer system.

The Pretreatment and Industrial Wastewater Service Section manages one of the largest pretreatment programs in the nation, which maintains 140 permits (of which 45 are categorical), and approximately 5,500 samples per year are collected. It administers and enforces the Clean Water Act (CWA) in conjunction with State and Federal regulators, as well as City of Houston Ordinance, Chapter 47, Section V, (Disposal of Industrial Wastes through City Sewer System).


  • Protect Houston's Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) from pollutants, which may cause interference with sewage treatment plant operations;  
  • Prevent introduction of pollutants into a POTW that could cause pass through of untreated pollutants to receiving waters;
  • Manage pollutant discharges into a POTW to improve opportunities for reuse of POTW wastewater and residuals (sewage sludge); and,
  • Prevent the introduction of pollutants into a POTW that could cause worker health or safety concerns, or pose a potential endangerment to the public or the environment.

If you are seeking information pertaining to Industrial Waste Permits for a new or existing industry in the Houston area, you will find all the necessary information here. Our phone number is (832) 395-5800. You can contact us by email at

Pretreatment Permits

The Industrial Wastewater Service issues permits to facilities that discharge industrial wastewater to the sanitary sewer system. The permit provides the conditions under which the discharge is authorized. It may contain any or all of the following:
•    Standard Conditions
•    Specific Requirements
•    Monitoring Requirements
•    Reporting Requirements
•    Compliance Schedules
Certain “one-time” disposal practices may warrant the issuance of temporary permits. For questions regarding the permitting requirements for industrial wastewater discharges, please contact the Industrial Wastewater Service. New or planned operations should determine if industrial waste permit requirements apply prior to construction. Failure to do so may result in additional costs and delays to ensure the discharge and/or pretreatment system meets applicable requirements after construction.

Pretreatment Inspection and Sampling

plan sample
Sampling of Industrial Discharge

Houston's monitoring program is conducted to control Sampling of Industrial Discharge to the City's wastewater treatment plants. Routine facility inspections and sampling are conducted by inspectors to ensure compliance with the City's Ordinance, as well as each industrial user's individual permit requirements. Inspectors also conduct surveillance monitoring at sewer maintenance manholes, inspect targeted areas in the City to inventory industrial users that require permits, and respond to treatment plant upsets or interference, which may require investigations of industrial users upstream of treatment plants.

Pretreatment Surcharge Assessment

Surcharge Assessment is a procedure for recovering costs incurred, while treating high strength waste discharged by industrial and commercial users into the wastewater system. It is an additional charge applied to industries, which discharge industrial waste into the wastewater system that is amenable to treatment by the wastewater system but exceeds the strength of domestic wastewater. Surcharges are calculated based on the concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) in the discharge.

Pretreatment Enforcement

The ultimate goal of the enforcement actions taken by the Industrial Wastewater Service is to ensure compliance with all applicable local, state and federal rules and regulations as they relate to pretreatment standards and requirements. The Pretreatment Program staff follow an Enforcement Response Plan.

Dental Office Point Source Category

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing technology-based pretreatment standards under the Clean Water Act to reduce discharges of mercury from dental offices into municipal sewage treatment plants known as Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs)…More

Resources and Links

Chapter 47 Section V – Disposal of Industrial Wastes through City Sewer System
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
Federal Pretreatment Program
Regulatory Affairs/Pretreatment & industrial Wastewater Service FAQs