Water / Soil / Ground Environment

Conservation of the Water Environment - Chapter 3

3. Conservation of the Water Environment

2. Countermeasures against Water Pollution

(1)Effluent Control Enforcement

The Water Pollution Control Law establishes national effluent standards and authorizes prefectural stringent ones in order to regulate waste water discharged from factories and business establishments into public water bodies. The standards are applied to the factories and business establishments with the "specified facility" defined by cabinet order. Two types of the effluent standards are set out for protecting human health and the living environment. The law covers about 300,000 factories and business establishments as of 1997. In addition, as for enclosed water bodies of wide range (lake, reservoirs, narrow bays and semi-enclosed seas, Areawide Total Pollutant Load Control has been introduced as follows.

The person who intends to install a specified facility shall notify its content with relevant information to the prefectural governor. The governor is authorized to recommend an improvement of planned facility operation and/or waste water treatment if it is suspected that the effluent of the factory or business premise may not comply with the standard. Moreover, a penalty is applied when the violation of the national or prefectural stringent standard is confirmed during its operation.

To monitor the state of water quality, prefectural governors shall make a continuous survey of water pollution in public water bodies. At the same time, the factory and business premise under control are obliged to confirm a compliance with the effluent standards through testing of their waste water.

Besides the above-mentioned measures, the Water Pollution Control Law has also established an absolute liability scheme in which a causal factory or business premise is required to compensate the health damage caused by its toxic substances.

1)National Effluent Standards

The national effluent standards are uniformly applied in Japan and consists of two categories, i.e., those for protecting human health (24 substances including cadmium and cyanide) and those for protecting the living environments (16 items).

2)Prefectural Stringent Effluent Standards

Where it is judged that the national effluent standard is insufficient to attain the EQS in a certain water body, the prefectural governor is authorized to introduce a prefectural stringent standard through a prefectural ordinate.

3)Expansion of the Specified Facilities under the Law

The Water Pollution Control Law covered some 500 industrial sectors of the 1,100 subcategories in the Japanese Industrial Standard Classification when it became effective in 1971. At the end of Fiscal Year 1996, it has covered some 600 sectors as a result of several amendments of the relevant cabinet order.

Uniform National Effluent Standards

Items related to the protection of human health
Toxic SubstancesPermissible Limits
cadmium and its compounds 0.1 mg/l
cyanide compounds 1 mg/l
organic phosphorus compounds
(parathion, methyl parathion,
methyl demeton and EPN only)
1 mg/l
lead and its compounds 0.1 mg/l
sexivalent chrome compounds 0.5 mg/l
arsenic and its compounds 0.1 mg/l
total mercury 0.005 mg/l
alkyl mercury compounds Not detectable
PCBs 0.003 mg/l
trichloroethylene 0.3 mg/l
tetrachloroethylene 0.1 mg/l
dichlorornethane 0.2 mg/l
carbon tetrachloride 0.02 mg/l
1, 2-dichloro ethane 0.04 mg/l
1, 1-dichloro ethlene 0.2 mg/l
cis-1, 2-dichloro ethylene 0.4 mg/l
1, 1, 1-trichloro ethane 3 mg/l
1, 1, 2-trichloro ethane 0.06 mg/l
1, 3-dichloropropene 0.02 mg/l
thiram 0.06 mg/l
simazine 0.03 mg/l
thiobencarb 0.2 mg/l
benzene 0.1 mg/l
selenium and its compounds 0.1 mg/l
Items related to the protection of the living environment
Living Environment ItemsPermissible Limits
hydrogen ion activity (pH) Non-marine 5-8-8.6
Marine 5.0-9.0
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) 160 mg/l
(Daily Average 120mg/l)
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) 160 mg/l
(Daily Average 120mg/l)
suspended solids(SS) 200 mg/l
(Daily Average 150mg/l)
n-hexane extracts (mineral oil) 5 mg/l
n-hexane extracts (animal and vegetable fats) 30 mg/l
phenols 5 mg/l
copper 3 mg/l
zinc 5 mg/l
dissolved iron 10 mg/l
dissolved manganese 10 mg/l
chromium 2 mg/l
fluorine 15 mg/l
number of coliform groups Daily Average 3000/cm3
nitrogen 120 mg/l
(Daily Average 60 mg/l)
phosphorus 16 mg/l
(Daily Average 80 mg/l)

(2)Water Quality Monitoring Systems

1)Water Quality Monitoring for Public Waters

The Environment Agency has been subsidizing the expenditures required to carry out monitoring programs which survey water quality in public waters. These subsidies are provided to prefectural governors and mayors of designated cities to implement their continuo surveys and surveillance of water quality as mandated by the Water Pollution Control Law. These subsidies are provided to prefectural governors and mayors of designated cities to implement their continuous surveys and surveillance of water quality as mandated by the Water Pollution Control Law. The public waters covered by this survey include those to which the category types of EQS are applied.

The Environment Agency has also subsidized prefectures and designated cities to install automatic water quality monitoring systems. As of the end of FY1996, such systems had been installed in 163 places. The Ministry of Construction has implemented a similar program for class 1 river from the river management point of view. As of the end of 1996, automatic water quality monitoring systems maintained by the Ministry of Construction had been installed in 148 places in 67 river basin systems.

With a voluntary cooperation of local people, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Construction have also performed another type of river water quality monitoring which uses biological indices.

2)Waste Water Monitoring

Prefectural governors and the mayors of designated cities are authorized by the law to conduct inspections and/of order factories and business establishments to present reports necessary to confirm the state of compliance with effluent standards. Based on the results of these inspections and/or reports, prefectural governors and the mayors of designated cities have been taking necessary administrative actions such as orders for improvement of treatment facility operations and so forth. Industries which discharge pollutants into the areas where Areawide Total Pollutant Load Standards apply are required by the Water Pollution Control Law to monitor and record their pollutant discharge loads.

(3)Countermeasures against Domestic Effluents

Effluents from domestic activities such as cooking, washing, and bathing are a major cause of pollution of public waters. Therefore, the Environment Agency specifies the provisions in the Water Pollution Control Law for promoting comprehensive countermeasures against domestic effluents, as follows.

Clarification of administrative responsibility for countermeasures against domestic effluents.

1)Clarification of administrative responsibility for countermeasures against domestic effluents.

These provisions mark the first time that cities, towns and villages have been asked to participate in activities to enforce countermeasures against domestic effluents under the scheme of the Water Pollution Control Law. These municipalities are required to take the initiative in improving effluent treatment facilities as well as in educating residents about countermeasures to reduce the amount and impact of domestic effluents. At the same time, the prefectures are to coordinate the municipal countermeasures against domestic effluents on a broader scale while the central government is to disseminate related information and to support the local governments' countermeasures.

2)Clarification of the general public's responsibilities for to countermeasures against domestic effluents.

The stipulations of these provisions require the general public to dispose of food wastes, cooking oil, and other wastes properly and to use detergents appropriately. The general public is also required to cooperate with efforts by the central and local governments to maintain public water quality. People who discharge domestic waste water are requested to maintain their facilities for treatment in good order.

3)Systematic promotion of countermeasures against domestic effluents.

Further and ongoing improvements in policies to address domestic effluent problems in accordance with the above purposes of the Law will be necessary in the future. Flexible infrastructure development of a variety of effluent treatment facilities appropriate for local conditions, e.g., public sewage systems, rural community sewerage systems for farming areas, community sewerage systems for urban areas and individual sewage treatment tanks is key to the solution. The promotion of education to enhance the public's awareness of the problem and to facilitate voluntary pollutant load reduction are being progressed.

4)Extension of control to certain effluent generating facilities in areas subject to Areawide Total Pollutant Load Control.

On-site sewerage facilities for 201-500 persons were designated as "specified facilities in the specified areas" which are regulated only in the Areawide Total Pollutant Load Control Areas in order to extend effluent facility control.

Further and ongoing improvements in policies to address domestic effluent problems in accordance with the purposes of the Water Pollution Control Law will be necessary in the future. Flexible infrastructure development of a variety of effluent treatment facilities appropriate for local conditions, e. g., public sewerage systems, rural community sewerage systems for farming areas, community sewerage systems for urban areas and individual sewage treatment tanks is key to the solution. The other essential element of a successful strategy is the promotion of education to enhance the public's awareness of the problem and to facilitate voluntary pollutant load reduction.

The Environment Agency, in view' of this issue's importance, has not only organized meetings such as the "Forum on the Water Environment" but has also developed and promoted "Guidelines to Promote Measures for Household Effluent" for comprehensive implementation by local governments.

Countermeasures against Domestic Effluents

Countermeasures against Domestic EffluentsMeasures in households Measures in kitchens, etc.
Improvement of individual treatment facilities Installation of small-scale individual sewerage treatment tanks
Improvement of individual sewerage treatment tanks
Installation of special treatment facilities for domestic effluent
Measures in communities Awareness raising
Establishment of public treatment facilities Establishment of public sewerage systems
Establishment of individual sewerage treatment tanks
Establishment of community sewerage treatment systems
Establishment of rural community sewerage

Percentage of Discharge Pollution Load According to Source in Three Watersheds(FY'94)


(4)Improvement of Sewerage Systems

Sewerage systems are essential components for the sound development of cities, the betterment of public hygiene, the maintenance of good living environments, and control of water quality in public waters.

Sewerage systems are planned, implemented and improved under 5-year programs. The seventh 5-year program continued from fiscal year 1996 through 2002. The 24 trillion yen budget of this program supported the installation and modernization of sewerage systems in response to environmental pollution control programs to achieve Environmental Quality Standards, with high priorities on Areawide Total Pollutant Load Control Plans for bays and inland sea waters and Plans for Control of Water Quality in lakes and reservoirs. The program has also supported the installation and modernization of sewerage systems in small cities. Consequently, it is expected that sewerage systems will have been extended to 7O% of the total population by the end of fiscal year 2000.

Several other model sewerage improvement projects are now underway. Both the "Amenity Sewerage Model Project" and "Utilization of Recycled Water Model Project" recycle waste water treated by sewerage systems, using it for such miscellaneous purposes as flushing public toilets. In addition, the model projects for improving domestic effluents in both urban areas and in the watersheds of lakes and reservoirs are promoted.

Comprehensive feasibility studies to define the Drainage Sewerage Systems aimed at improving and maintaining water quality on a watershed basis within the Environmental Quality Standards were performed for 197 localities by the end of fiscal year 1993. Of these localities, 77 have adopted their respective plans for drainage sewerage systems.

Individual Activity Costs for the 8th Seven-Year Program for Improvement of Sewerage Systems

CategoryEighth plan
(FY 1996-FY2002)
Public sewerage systems 141,200
Drainage basin sewerage systems 34,000
Urban sewerage systems 2,300
Specified public sewerage systems 300
Specified public sewerage systems for environmental conservation 22,200
Total 237,000
General public activities total 131,700
Regional activities total 68,300
Page top