Pharmaceutical Trade Effluent Monitoring

Following increases in production, a large pharmaceutical company in the UK was at risk of breaching their trade effluent consent agreement on flow rates, daily volumes and COD loads.

The consent agreement permitted a highest flow rate of 11 litres/sec, a maximum daily volume of 672m³ and a COD load of 2950kg/day.

The company needed accurate data. If a breach of consent was proven, they would be liable to alter production methods, re-negotiate trade effluent consent terms, invest in water treatment methods or face the possibility of fines and bad news stories.

Auto spot sampling at the site was indicating that the consent was being breached on COD.


  • Conduct a flow and load survey.
  • Identify if the company was in breach of their trade effluent consent agreement.


Detectronic has been monitoring flow rates and volumes online at this site since 2010. In 2013 production increased and the primary flow measurement device being used was no longer fit for purpose. Peaks in effluent levels were drowning the rectangular flume.

Our site engineers installed an area-velocity flow meter (MSFM) to record flow rates and volumes, along with an online COD analyser to establish accurate COD load quantities, which would take readings every 5 minutes.


Very quickly, the area velocity flow meter showed that the flume was consistently being drowned during peak flows, making it over-read.


The reports from the flow and load survey were presented to the Trade Effluent Officer of the regional waste water sewage undertaker, who was satisfied with Detectronic’s results showing that the site was well within its consent agreement.

The company now has on-going accurate data of their wastewater discharge. All without the expense of further costly waste water treatment.

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