Publicly Owned Treatment Works Law and Legal Definition

A publicly owned treatment works means a sewage treatment plant that is owned, and usually operated by a U.S. government agency. It is also known as POTW. In the U.S., POTWs are typically owned by local government agencies. They are designed to treat domestic sewage, not industrial waste. The term is often seen used in the Clean Water Act, and other water pollution laws and regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants or low interest loans for establishment of POTWs.

The following is an example of a federal regulation defining the term:

According to 40 CFR 260.10, Publicly owned treatment works or POTW means any device or system used in the treatment (including recycling and reclamation) of municipal sewage or industrial wastes of a liquid nature which is owned by a "State" or "municipality" (as defined by section 502(4) of the CWA). This definition includes sewers, pipes, or other conveyances only if they convey wastewater to a POTW providing treatment.