Michigan Wastewater Variances: What you need to know

Governing Law and Regulations

Variance hearings, Michigan Administrative Code (MAC) r. 281.329

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National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) variances: MAC r. 323.1103

Groundwater quality: MAC r. 323.2201 to 323.2210

Regulatory Agency

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE)

See ADDRESSES & CONTACTS for addresses and telephone numbers.

See national section for basic information and federal regulations.

Comparison: State vs. Federal

Rules. Michigan generally follows federal guidelines for NPDES variances. The state rules allow water quality variances for discharges into groundwater under certain circumstances and are dependent on the groundwater use in the area. For information on the federal guidelines, see the national section WASTEWATER VARIANCES.

Administration and enforcement. DNRE administers and enforces Michigan's groundwater quality variances.

State Requirements


MAC r. 323.1103

The state grants variances on water quality-based effluent limitations, but is restricted by the following provisions:

  • The variance applies only to the permittees requesting the variance and to the pollutants specified in the request.
  • The variance does not apply to new dischargers unless the proposed discharge is necessary to alleviate an imminent and substantial danger to the public's health or welfare.
  • The variance will not be granted if there is a threat to endangered species.
  • The variance will not be granted if it can be replaced by implementing cost-effective and reasonable best management practices for nonpoint sources within the vicinity of the facility.
  • The duration of the variance cannot exceed the term of the NPDES permit.

A variance may be granted if the permittee ...

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State Requirements

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Michigan Wastewater Variances Resources

Wastewater Variances Products

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