Industrial trade wastewater

Why you need our approval 

Discharging industrial trade wastewater into our systems is an operational, environmental and safety risk for us and the community. That's why you must have our approval to connect your commercial business to our system, and properly install and maintain appropriate treatment equipment. This helps us meet our commitment to Greater Sydney to protect the health of the community and the environment. This page covers industrial trade wastewater. Find out more about commercial trade wastewater.

What is trade wastewater?
Trade wastewater is wastewater produced at industrial or commercial premises. It can be wastewater transported by vehicle, and includes septic effluent. It also includes wastewater from ships and boats, and run-off from contaminated surface water and groundwater.


Why we regulate trade wastewater

Trade wastewater may include 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. Our requirements and conditions for accepting trade wastewater help us to:

  • prevent blockages in the wastewater system that could cause waste to flow into the environment, into the community or even back into your premises
  • protect people working in and around the wastewater system 
  • protect rivers and oceans
  • protect the wastewater system and treatment plants from damage so we can continue to serve the community
  • process wastewater and produce recycled water and good quality biosolids
  • encourage sustainability through waste minimisation, cleaner production and water conservation.

Our trade wastewater requirements help us protect areas like this.


Businesses that produce industrial trade wastewater

The types of businesses that produce trade wastewater from the processes below discharge industrial trade wastewater:

  • food processing and manufacture
  • tanning and textiles
  • petroleum-based activities
  • pharmaceutical and cosmetic activities
  • chemicals, plastics and surfactants
  • metals and surface coatings
  • paper, board, photographic and printing
  • cement, stone and abrasives
  • waste and wastewater treatment 
  • sewer mining and decentralised wastewater treatment.

You also discharge industrial trade wastewater if your process is not specifically listed as a commercial or deemed process.


Approval to discharge industrial trade wastewater

You may already have approval to discharge

If you have our approval to discharge industrial trade wastewater, you should have a hard copy of our consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater. The written approval outlines our conditions, including:

  • daily discharge limits for a number of substances
  • how we charge you for your trade wastewater discharge
  • our acceptance standards
  • a requirement for you to regularly sample and analyse your trade wastewater.

If you can't find a copy or you're not sure if you have our written approval, email us at businesscustomers@sydneywater.com.au to check. If you don't have our approval and you're discharging trade wastewater, you must apply at Sydney Water Tap in.

How to apply

Applying for approval to discharge industrial trade wastewater is simple: 

  1. Complete an 'Application for connection to discharge trade wastewater' at Sydney Water Tap in.
  2. We'll assess your application with 21 days in most cases.
  3. We'll contact you to discuss your application, collect additional information or arrange to meet you at your property.
  4. We'll issue a conditional consent outlining our terms and conditions.

Who can apply

The owner, manager or occupier who is conducting business on site is the applicant. You must not apply on behalf of someone else without their permission. The property owner must sign the application form to confirm the business activities conducted on the premises.

What you need to provide

We consider each application to discharge industrial trade wastewater carefully. You'll need to provide:

  • site plan
  • plan of proposed drainage (for new buildings)
  • description of the business processes
  • details of pre-treatment equipment (existing and proposed)
  • pump specifications
  • information about any open areas 
  • information about chemicals used in your processes
  • details about how chemicals are stored on site.

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


Industrial trade wastewater requirements

Discharging industrial trade wastewater

If you have our approval, you'll have a copy of a signed consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater. The written approval is a legally binding contract signed by both parties. Read the general conditions that apply to a Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater (100KB).

  • Your trade wastewater discharge must meet our acceptance standards. We may direct you to stop discharging trade wastewater if it exceeds these limits. Download Industrial customers – acceptance standards and charging rates (644KB)
  • We set site-specific maximum daily mass limits for each substance. These are listed in your approval.
  • We set site-specific maximum discharge volumes. This is detailed in your approval.
  • We use a risk-assessment process to determine the frequency of ongoing monitoring requirements. This includes inspection, sampling and analysis. These requirements are outlined in your approval.
  • Some customers may be required to install and maintain online monitoring systems. 

Monitoring

You must collect and analyse samples of your trade wastewater as specified in your consent. Our List of analytical methods for trade waste (92KB) fact sheet specifies the reference method to use when analysing trade wastewater samples. We'll only accept analysis by laboratories registered with the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) to perform the class of tests or specific tests.

Measuring trade wastewater discharge

You must install and maintain an approved flow measurement device to measure trade wastewater discharge. The system must continuously display instantaneous flow rate and cumulative kilolitres discharged. Flow meters must be calibrated in situ every year. 

Download Flow measurement for trade waste dischargers (126KB).

Suspending a consent 

We may suspend consent to discharge trade wastewater if the wastewater discharge poses a threat to:

  • our staff and contractors
  • our sewerage treatment systems and processes
  • the environment. 

If you don't comply, we may disconnect the trade wastewater service and restrict or disconnect the water service.


Our acceptance standards

Accepting trade wastewater to sewer means we accept additional operational, environmental and safety risks. To help manage these risks, we set concentration limits for some substances. These concentration limits are based on:

  • protecting the health and safety of workers in and around the sewerage system
  • protecting public health
  • meeting pollutant reduction targets and discharge licence conditions set by the Environment Protection Authority NSW
  • protecting our systems and treatment processes.

To find out more about our acceptance standards, read Industrial customers – acceptance standards and charging rates (644KB).


If you're discharging groundwater

We'll consider an application to discharge groundwater during a site remediation if you:

  • provide evidence the groundwater has previously been contaminated by manufactured sources
  • install a pre-treatment system to treat trade wastewater to meet our concentration limits (acceptance standards) 
  • pump the wastewater to sewer
  • install an approved flow measurement device
  • install an approved rainfall cut-off device to delay discharge during and immediately after heavy rain
  • provide a plan outlining how long you expect the remediation work to take.

Excavation and construction
If you collect groundwater and surface water during excavation and construction, you must not discharge it to our wastewater system. You must treat and discharge it to the site's stormwater drainage system. Talk to the NSW Environment Protection Authority or your local council about requirements.


Fees and charges

Trade waste fees and charges cover the additional costs of managing and treating trade wastewater. There are 2 types of charges:

  • management fees 
  • waste quality charges.