Industrial trade wastewater

Requirements for discharge into our systems

Discharging industrial 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. Commercial 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 industrial trade wastewater

If your business is listed below, it's likely to produce industrial trade wastewater:

  • food processing and manufacture
  • beverage manufacture
  • textiles
  • truck washes
  • large commercial laundries
  • petroleum-based activities
  • pharmaceutical and cosmetic activities
  • chemicals, plastics and surfactants
  • metals and surface coatings
  • paper and board
  • cement, stone and abrasives
  • waste and wastewater treatment 
  • sewer mining and decentralised wastewater treatment
  • businesses not specifically listed as businesses that produce commercial trade wastewater or approved as deemed processes.

If you're not an industrial trade waste customer, you might be a commercial trade waste customer. Commercial customers must install specific treatment equipment before discharging commercial trade wastewater into our systems.

Apply for approval to discharge

Before you apply

Check that you don't already have an executed copy of our Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater. This 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 you have written approval, email us at If you don't have our written approval, you must apply.

How to apply

  1. Complete an 'Application for connection to discharge trade wastewater' at Sydney Water Tap in®. We usually assess applications within 21 days.
  2. We'll contact you to discuss your application, collect additional information or arrange to meet you at your property.
  3. If your application is approved, you'll receive 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 your property. We may also disconnect or restrict your water service.

Your requirements

Written approval

You need the signed Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater, which is our written approval. It's 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. Learn about Industrial customers – acceptance standards and charging rates (644KB).
  • We set site-specific maximum daily mass limits for each substance you're required to monitor. These are listed in your approval.
  • We set site-specific maximum discharge volumes and rates of discharge. These are detailed in your approval.
  • We use a risk-assessment process to determine the frequency of ongoing monitoring requirements. This includes carrying out sampling and analysis. These requirements are outlined in your approval.
  • Some customers are required to install and maintain online monitoring systems.


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. Find out more about Flow measurement for trade waste dischargers (220KB).

Suspending a Consent

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

  • our staff and contractors
  • our wastewater 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 our wastewater pipes means we accept additional operational, environmental and safety risks. To help manage these risks, we set concentration limits for some substances. They're based on:

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

Find out more about our Industrial customers – acceptance standards and charging rates (644KB).

Contaminated 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.

Contaminated surface water from open areas

An open area is defined as any unroofed or partially roofed area where water collected on the surface can discharge into our wastewater system. Our base position is that no open areas discharge to our wastewater system. However, we understand that in some situations only limited options will be available to manage the discharge of contaminated surface water from open areas.

Discharge from open areas is classified as industrial trade wastewater. Therefore, approval to discharge from an open area to our wastewater network is managed under a Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater.

How to apply for discharge from an open area

You need to apply for approval to discharge industrial trade wastewater through Sydney Water Tap in. If we approve your application, you'll be required to install a first flush system. The first flush volume must be treated to meet our acceptance standards before discharge. To apply, you'll need to provide:

  • written evidence from the local council that a roof is not permitted
  • a report from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) or local council confirming the run-off is contaminated and can't be directed to the site's stormwater drainage.
Requirements for open areas smaller than 50 m2
  • Written approval in the form of a Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater.
  • Installation of a first flush system that will capture the first 500 litres of rainfall and direct the rest to the stormwater drainage system. The first flush volume is to be pumped to the approved pre-treatment plant at a rate not exceeding 0.3 litres per second. 
  • An electromagnetic discharge meter to measure discharge volume and discharge rate.
Requirements for open areas larger than 50 m2
  • Written approval in the form of a Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater.
  • Installation of a first flush system designed to capture the first 10 mm of rainfall over the area and direct the rest to the stormwater drainage system.
  • A rainfall cut-off device that delays discharge of the first flush volume to our wastewater system for at least one hour after rain stops (or as specified in your Consent to discharge industrial trade wastewater).
  • An electromagnetic discharge meter to measure discharge volume and discharge rate.

Click to enlarge

Excavation and construction

If contaminated groundwater or surface water is collected during excavation and construction, it must not be discharged to our wastewater network. It must be treated and discharged to the site's stormwater drainage system. Talk to the EPA or local council about your requirements.

Fees and charges

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