Pocatello Water Pollution Control Pretreatment Program

The mission of the Industrial Pretreatment Program is to protect the environment, public health, biosolids quality, and Pocatello 's sewerage system. We work cooperatively with our customers as we regulate industrial discharges, provide technical assistance, and monitor the sewerage system.

Discharge Guidelines

Prior to discharging industrial waste to the sewer, all dischargers who generate and dispose of industrial wastewater should contact the Industrial Pretreatment Program. Potential dischargers will be sent a permit application package if a written discharge approval is necessary. You may also request that a permit application package be mailed to you by calling the Industrial Pretreatment Program at 208-234-6256, or go to our Permit Applications tab.

Permit Timelines

The time it takes to obtain a permit depends upon the type and amount of wastewater a company discharges to the sewer. There are 2 types of standards and limitations (Local Pretreatment Limits and Federal Pretreatment Limits) that apply to a company's discharge. Visit our Federal Pretreatment Limits page for a list of federally regulated industries. Some approvals for very low-volume or one-time discharges can be made verbally or by letter.

For federally regulated discharges you must apply for a permit 90 days prior to discharge. For Pocatello regulated discharges have the following requirements:

  • Flows greater than 25,000 gallons per day shall submit a completed application 90 days prior to commencement of operation
  • Flows less than 25,000 gallons per day shall submit a completed application 30 days prior to commencement of operation

Types of Approvals

The Industrial Waste Program issues several types of discharge approvals. These include

  • Discharge authorizations
  • Discharge letters
  • Permits
  • Verbal approvals

The type of approval is determined by the volume discharged, the nature of the business, the characteristics of the wastewater, and the potential risk to the treatment plant.

Industrial Waste Fees

There is no fee associated with the issuance and renewal of Waste Discharge Permits, Discharge Authorizations, and Letters of Authorization.

Surcharge Program

Pocatello has surcharges for Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG), Total Phosphorus, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, and volume of flow. Facilities are charged fees to pay for the costs of treating their high-strength wastewater. The surcharge or high-strength fee is based on the volume of water discharged and the amount of TSS, BOD, FOG, Total Phosphorus, and/or Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen in the wastewater.

Local Pretreatment Limits

Local Pretreatment Limits apply to all businesses that discharge industrial wastewater to Pocatello's sewer system.

Corrosive Substances (pH)

Wastewater with a pH either above or below the permitted level can damage the sewer lines and disrupt treatment plant operations. It can also react with other substances in the sewage to create noxious fumes. The lower pH limit is a minimum of 6.0. No single sample or reading may be less than 6.0. The upper pH limit is 10.0. The upper limit may be exceeded only with a written or verbal authorization from the City.

Fats, Oils, & Grease (FOG)

FOG from a petroleum or mineral origin (nonpolar FOG) can harm the biological treatment process. Oil / water separators used to pretreat oily wastewater must be approved before installation. Plans for separators should be submitted to the city for review and approval. Nonpolar FOG is limited to 100 milligrams per liter. Contact Industrial Pretreatment to obtain a copy of the Oil / Water Separator Fact Sheet (PDF) for information on plan submittal and installation guidelines.

FOG from an animal or a vegetable origin (polar FOG) can block sewer lines. The City requires a minimum of a 1500 gallon grease interceptor and the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for all food service industries. Although polar FOG has no numerical limit, discharges shall not have any free-floating (visible) polar FOG discharging to the sewer. Dischargers may not add agents to emulsify free-floating polar FOG. Companies discharging polar FOG are required to complete an application for discharge approval. Solids capable of settling can restrict or block flow in sewer lines. Any industry discharging grease is liable for any damages caused by sewage backups. Read about the Grease Interceptor (PDF) and view the BMP Fact Sheet (PDF) for information on plan submittal and installation guidelines.

Flammable or Explosive Materials

Sewer lines have been known to explode, causing severe damage to people and property as a result of explosive or flammable materials entering the sewer. To prevent this hazard, certain pollutants are prohibited from the sewer system. Prohibited pollutants include, but are not limited to:

  • Alcohols
  • Aldehydes
  • Benzene
  • Bromates
  • Carbides
  • Chlorates
  • Ethers
  • Gasoline
  • Hydrides
  • Kerosene
  • Ketones
  • Naphtha
  • Perchlorates
  • Peroxides
  • Sulfides
  • Toluene
  • Xylene

Other substances that the City, the fire department, EPA, or the State of Idaho recognizes as a hazard to the system may also be included. For information about discharging solutions containing any amounts of flammable or explosive substances, contact the Industrial Pretreatment Program at 208-234-6256. The type of material, degree of hazard, and amount present will determine whether a discharge approval is granted.

High Temperature

High temperature can cause the release of gases in sewers or disrupt treatment plant operation. The temperature of industrial wastewater shall not exceed 65 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit) at the point where the wastewater enters the public sewer system. Heat in such quantities that the temperature at the wastewater treatment plant exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) is prohibited.

Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide is dangerous to breathe and presents serious odor problems. It also reacts with water to form sulfuric acid which in turn destroys sewer lines. The atmospheric hydrogen sulfide limit is 10 parts per million measured at a Pocatello designated monitoring manhole. The soluble sulfide limits may be established on a case-by-case basis.


Heavy metals in excess of the permitted limits can upset or disable treatment plant operations. Heavy metals either pass through the plant into the final effluent discharged to Portneuf Fiver or accumulate in the biosolids.

Parameter Daily Maximum – Milligrams Per Liter (Parts Per Million)

  • Arsenic 0.05
  • Cadmium 0.028
  • Chromium 3.2
  • Copper 0.515
  • Lead 0.195
  • Mercury 0.00067
  • Molybdenum 0.12
  • Nickel 0.42
  • Selenium 0.107
  • Silver 0.62
  • Zinc 1.87

The values listed as metal limits are for total metals, not just dissolved metals.

Organic Compounds

Organic compounds such as solvents, cleaners, thinners, pesticides, and laboratory chemicals may cause toxic gases and fumes in sewer lines. Discharges of pure organic products and discharges of compounds that may affect worker safety or health problems are prohibited.

Federal Pretreatment Limits

The federal government has established discharge limits for specific activities. The following is a partial list of industries considered “categorical dischargers.” These companies require a full permit regardless of wastewater discharge volume.

  • Aluminum forming
  • Battery manufacturing
  • Centralized waste treatment
  • Circuit board manufacturing
  • Coil coating
  • Copper forming
  • Electrical / electronic components
  • Electroplating
  • Inorganic chemical manufacturing
  • Iron / steel manufacturing
  • Leather tanning finishing
  • Metal finishing
  • Metal foundries
  • Nonferrous metal manufacturing
  • Pesticide manufacturing
  • Petroleum refining
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Porcelain enameling
  • Pulp / paper mills
  • Wood preserving

Permit Applications

For more information on applications, permits and fees, call 208-234-6256 and ask for the Industrial Pretreatment Office.

A Clean Water Connection

When your business properly disposes of wastewater, your community benefits from cleaner water and reduced wastewater treatment costs. This brochure will provide you with general guidelines for discharging industrial wastewater into the sanitary sewer system in the Pocatello service area and parts of Bannock County. Our goal is to help you conduct your business while you comply with the regulations.

Industrial Waste Program

The Industrial Pretreatment Program administers the city's industrial waste regulations for local businesses that discharge industrial wastewater to Pocatello's sewage treatment plant. Program activities include:

  • Administration of waste discharge permits
  • Collection of surcharge and monitoring fees
  • Enforcement
  • Inspections
  • Sample collection to determine compliance

Routine monitoring is conducted throughout the Pocatello service area to trace discharges that could harm workers or disrupt treatment plant operations. Industrial Pretreatment staff also works with businesses to help them identify and employ pollution prevention practices.

The High Price of Polluting

Managing wastewater properly is good for the water, the environment, and community health. It's also good for business. Businesses or individuals who illegally discharge substances to the sanitary sewer system must pay for any damages and may be fined up to $1,000 per day per violation. Companies may also be charged for increased monitoring and may be required to install upgraded equipment. Any business receiving a fine will have its company name published in a Idaho State Journal ad entitled: “Companies Violate Pretreatment Standards.” You can avoid these high costs of polluting and the Industrial Pretreatment staff can help you by calling 208-234-6256.

The information in this publication is based on Pocatello City Code 13.16 and 13.20. Additional information and copies of these documents can be obtained by contacting the Industrial Pretreatment staff at 208-234-6256.

Industrial Waste Sample Collection

Prior to discharging industrial waste to the sewer system your business may need to have a representative sample of the wastewater analyzed and the results presented to Pocatello's Industrial Pretreatment Program waste before obtaining discharge approval. Contact the Industrial Waste Program for guidance on approved sampling and analysis methods.