Trade effluent is defined as any discharge into the sewerage system that isn't domestic effluent. Examples of industries generating trade effluent and that therefore require consent are dry cleaners, launderettes, breweries, dairies, manufacturers, and commercial swimming pools.

NB: Discharge of potentially harmful chemicals is not defined as trade effluent as they cannot be discharged into the sewers and must be disposed of by a specialist contractor.

Why is trade effluent regulated?

Trade effluent is highly variable in terms of volume and contamination strength. Regulation is necessary to ensure the sewerage network can adequately handle and treat the effluent, to protect the health and safety of staff and to protect the environment from untreated discharge.

Is trade effluent consent a legal requirement?

It is a criminal offence to discharge trade effluent waste without consent, and doing so carries the risk of prosecution and fines.

Under the Water Industry Act 1991, it is a legal requirement to seek consent to discharge trade effluent so it can be properly treated. Typically, larger industrial customers must negotiate with their wastewater wholesaler to arrange bespoke consent limits.

Once you have gained consent, you have several obligations to ensure the sewerage system can handle the volume and nature of the effluent.

Your business could be liable for the costs of clean up and repair if it is found to have caused any damage to the sewerage system by trade effluent discharges that do not have consent. Consistent breaches could result in an unlimited fine, legal action and possible imprisonment. Your business would also be liable for clean-up charges and legal costs, not to mention the reputational damage and consequent loss of custom.

How to comply with trade effluent requirements

Every consent comes with its own requirements which you are legally bound to adhere to. The requirements cover limits on pH levels, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), suspended solids and temperature. They may also cover chemicals and metals, with maximum volumes and discharge rates which you will be required to adhere to.

How to monitor trade effluent

You will be required to monitor effluent and your consent will specify how often samples need to be taken, how they need to be stored, and the monitoring equipment you use. For the safety of the environment, accuracy is important when monitoring samples, so you must ensure staff are fully trained on how to take samples and operate the equipment, and you must keep detailed and accurate records. The data collected can be used to monitor your company’s activities, ensuring that you keep within the limits of your consent.

Your local water authority will monitor the quality and quantity of your effluent to ensure you are adhering to the limits of your consent.

Changes to trade effluent

Any operational changes you make that will have an impact on your trade effluent will change the nature of the consent your company needs.

Castle Water will support you with any compliance challenges to help you meet regulatory obligations, minimise environmental impact and reduce the risk of unexpected costs.

If you would like to discuss your trade effluent consent requirements, email to talk to our team today. Alternatively, click here to read common trade effluent FAQs.