Publicly owned treatment works

The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, serving metropolitan Chicago, is the largest sewage treatment plant in the world.

A publicly owned treatment works (POTW) is a term used in the United States for a sewage treatment plant that is owned, and usually operated, by a government agency. In the U.S., POTWs are typically owned by local government agencies, and are usually designed to treat domestic sewage and not industrial wastewater.

The term is used extensively in U.S. water pollution law (i.e. the Clean Water Act), regulations and programs.[1][2] Many POTWs were established and/or expanded with grants or low-interest loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are over 16,000 POTWs in the U.S., serving 75 percent of the total population.[3] The remainder is served by decentralized or private septic systems. The POTWs treat 32 billion US gallons (120 gigalitres) of wastewater every day.[4]

See also


  1. U.S. Clean Water Act, Titles II and VI. 33 U.S.C. § 1281, 33 U.S.C. § 1381.
  2. "National Pretreatment Program". National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2015-11-16.
  3. "Water and Wastewater Systems Sector". Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 2016-01-08.
  4. "Basic Information about Water Security". Water Security. EPA. 2014-02-11. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06.
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