Abstract A previously developed fuzzy waste load allocation model (FWLAM) for a river system is extended to address uncertainty involved in fixing the membership functions for the fuzzy goals of the pollution control agency (PCA) and the dischargers using the concept of grey systems. The model provides flexibility for the PCA and the dischargers to specify their goals independently, as the parameters for membership functions are considered as interval grey numbers instead of deterministic real numbers. An inexact or a grey fuzzy optimization model is developed in a multiobjective framework, to maximize the width of the interval valued fractional removal levels for providing latitude in decision-making and to minimize the width of the goal fulfillment level for reducing the system uncertainty. The concept of an acceptability index for order relation between two partially or fully overlapping intervals is used to get a deterministic equivalent of the grey fuzzy optimization model developed. The improvement of the optimal solutions over a previously developed grey fuzzy waste load allocation model (GFWLAM) is shown through an application to a hypothetical river system. The fuzzy multiobjective optimization and fuzzy goal programming techniques are used to solve the deterministic equivalent of the GFWLAM.