Commercial trade wastewater

Requirements for discharge into our systems

Discharging commercial trade wastewater is an operational, environmental and safety risk for us and the community. You must have written approval to connect your business to our network, and properly install and maintain appropriate treatment equipment. Industrial trade wastewater has different requirements.

Trade wastewater and its risks

Trade wastewater is wastewater produced at industrial or commercial premises that contains substances that could affect the environment or the health of the community. It may even affect our ability to serve the community by damaging our equipment. It includes wastewater transported by vehicle, including septic effluent. It also includes wastewater from ships and boats, contaminated groundwater and contaminated surface water.

Businesses that produce commercial trade wastewater

If your business is on the list below (which includes automotive, food and photographic industries), you're classified as a commercial customer. The Commercial customers – trade wastewater fees and charges fact sheet has the complete list of commercial trade wastewater processes that require a formal written permit.

If you're not a commercial customer, you might be an industrial customer. Industrial customers need different treatment equipment and may need to take samples before discharging industrial trade wastewater into our systems.

If your business process isn't listed below or on the fact sheet, email

Business group Activities

Retail food

Restaurants, takeaway food outlets, function centres, hospital and nursing home kitchens, caterers, butchers, delicatessens, retail bakeries and childcare centres


Service stations, panel beaters and spray painters, car detailers, car wash – hand wash and pressure spray, car wash < 12 kL/day, mechanical workshops and auto recyclers

Commercial laundries

Laundromats, commercial laundries < 2 ML/year, and hospital, nursing home and hotel laundries


Minilabs, medical facilities using X-rays, graphic arts and professional photographic laboratories

Shopping centres with centralised pre-treatment

Shopping centres with shared pre-treatment other than grease traps


Craft breweries, municipal swimming pools and aquatic centres, cooling towers and boiler blowdown

Apply for approval to discharge

Some businesses must seek formal approval to discharge commercial trade wastewater. Others, whose processes are considered low risk, are deemed processes and do not need formal approval. However, all commercial businesses must meet certain requirements before we allow them to discharge into our systems.

Our Responsibilities of connected customers policy (358KB) covers your rights and obligations when you're connected to our systems. If you're not sure whether your business is commercial or industrial, don't worry. Follow the steps below and apply anyway. We'll contact you.

Before you apply

You must make sure that the property owner or the managing agent:

  • knows that you're applying for a trade waste agreement
  • knows the type of business you're running on the property.

How to apply

  1. Complete an application for connection to discharge trade wastewater at Sydney Water Tap in®. Your application must be approved by either the property owner or the managing agent on the property owner's behalf.
  2. Answer any questions we have if we need to contact you about your application, collect additional information or arrange to meet you at your property.
  3. Wait while we assess your application and notify you of any requirements. This usually takes less than 21 days.

You mustn't apply on behalf of someone else without their permission. We send the written approval to the property owner. You must tell us if you change the business activities on your site.

How to cancel

It's easy to cancel an existing commercial trade wastewater approval. You must apply at least 28 days before you stop discharging trade wastewater. This enables us to stop the trade waste charges from the date you stop discharging trade wastewater from the property.

Complete your application to cancel an existing trade wastewater approval at Sydney Water Tap in. You mustn't apply on behalf of someone else without their permission.

If you discharge trade wastewater without our approval, we may disconnect the trade waste service. We may also disconnect or restrict your water service.

Fees and charges

Most commercial customers have standard commercial processes, which are defined in our Commercial customers – trade wastewater fees and charges fact sheet. Standard commercial processes attract management fees and waste quality charges that cover our additional costs in managing and treating your trade wastewater.

If you have deemed processes, trade waste fees and charges don't apply.

Your requirements

All commercial businesses are required to meet pre-treatment, backflow prevention and other requirements. Also, all commercial businesses other than those with deemed processes need our formal permission to discharge trade wastewater. To gain our approval, you must meet the requirements explained in your trade wastewater permit.

  • Most commercial trade wastewater customers must install and maintain grease traps and other pre-treatment equipment. Your permit will explain your conditions and pre-treatment requirements. These may include installing and maintaining specific equipment for your business activities.
  • You can only use pre-treatment items listed for use within our area of operations. If you're unsure, discuss your pre-treatment requirements with us before purchasing equipment.
  • Some substances cannot be discharged at all, and some pre-treatment equipment must not be connected to our systems.

Manufacturers and suppliers can apply to list pre-treatment equipment for use in our area of operations.

What is pre-treatment?
Pre-treatment is the process and equipment required to treat wastewater before it's discharged into the wastewater system. Adding solvents, enzymes, mutant or natural bacteria, odour control agents and pesticides to grease traps or pre-treatment systems is not permitted.

What can and can't be discharged

We don't permit some types of waste to be discharged into our systems, and some types of pre-treatment equipment must not be connected to our systems. For example, we don't allow sink-to-sewer waste disposal units, in-sink food waste disposal units or garbage grinders on business premises. Certain industries, listed below, pose significant risks if waste isn't properly managed.

We assess each application for approval to discharge. Your site-specific conditions are outlined in your individual commercial permit.

Retail food businesses

Retail food businesses produce trade wastewater that contains organic material that can cause odours and accelerate corrosion in our wastewater system. It also contains greasy waste, which can become solid and block our systems. Wastewater may overflow into the environment or even back into your premises. Find out more about the requirements for retail food businesses.

Automotive businesses and motor trades

Automotive businesses and motor trades produce trade wastewater that contains petroleum hydrocarbons, solids, metals, chlorinated solvents and phenols. They have a range of special requirements. Find out more about requirements for automotive businesses.

Craft breweries

Craft breweries are an emerging industry. Their trade wastewater can cause odours and accelerated corrosion in our wastewater system (sewer). Find out more about our Trade waste requirements for craft breweries discharging less than 12 kL/day.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities include hospitals, clinics, offices or surgeries of a medical doctor, dentists, convalescent or nursing homes, medical or veterinary laboratories, health transport facilities and other medical facilities.

  • Medical facilities can discharge liquid waste to our wastewater system, including faeces and body fluids.
  • They cannot discharge solid waste. Solid waste includes hypodermic needles, syringes, instruments, utensils, swabs, dressings, bandages, any disposable paper or plastic items, any portion of human or animal anatomy, or any items that have been macerated.

Hospitals or veterinary premises with nuclear medicine units must ensure they discharge wastewater to our wastewater system at a controlled rate that we determine. You may have to install delay holding tanks, restrict days and time of discharge and sample your trade wastewater.

Ongoing inspections

Our business customer representatives will inspect your site and pre-treatment, and may enter your site to ensure your activities are in line with your permit. They may:

  • collect samples of your trade wastewater at any time, on any day
  • install and use online monitoring.

No one on the premises is permitted to impede or delay our representatives unless it's to ensure relevant safety precautions are in place.

Do you have deemed processes?

Deemed processes are business processes we assess as low risk, and discharge small volumes of trade wastewater to our wastewater system (sewer). Trade waste fees and charges don't apply to deemed processes, and you don't need to seek formal approval to discharge wastewater. However, you're still required to meet pre-treatment, backflow prevention and other requirements. Refer to our listed pre-treatment for other businesses.

See if you fulfil the pre-treatment requirements for deemed processes.

Not sure whether your business processes are deemed processes?
Apply for approval at Sydney Water Tap in and we'll advise you.