Understanding your trade effluent license

Date: 23/04/19 | In: Industrial Wastewater

If you own or manage a company that discharges effluent that could harm the environment, you will need a trade effluent license so that it can be treated safely. This article is designed to help you in understanding trade effluent and how to interpret your consent licence.

What is trade effluent?

Trade effluent is any type of liquid waste that is discharged into public sewers from a business or an industrial process. This liquid could be waste water from a specific production process such as the brewing of beer or water that has been used for cooling or washing. It could even be water from commercial swimming pools and car washes.

Even if you’re only planning a short-term discharge, such as processing contaminated groundwater from a new build housing project or flushing a central heating system, you will require a temporary trade effluent license.

In order to gain a trade effluent license, you must first contact your retail supplier i.e. your respective local Water and Sewerage Company (WASC). You must complete a form based on the duration of discharge, either six months or less or more than six months. The WASC must then grant or refuse you a consent license within two months.

So, what happens when I receive my trade effluent license?

When you receive your license (consent to discharge trade effluent) it will include a variety of conditions and limits to discharge that are all legally binding. That means if you fail to comply with just one single condition you could be prosecuted! So, it’s vital you have all the necessary measures in place, such as monitoring and sampling, to ensure you meet all of the conditions of your consent license at all times.

Every licence is unique and will always contain bespoke requirements for your company alone. For example, any chemical parameters included will be based solely on the individual processes or manufacturing programmes. Even if you’re operating in the same industry as a competitor 3 miles down the road, making the same products, your licences will be different.

Your licence may even stipulate what type of equipment should be used to ensure compliance. This will often be the requirement to implement MCERTS equipment. MCERTS is the Monitoring Certification Scheme of the Environment Agencies of England and Wales. Compliance with MCERTS gives the Environment Agency confidence in the monitoring of emissions and/or discharges into the environment.

What does a trade effluent license contain?

To best illustrate what a trade effluent license contains, it’s easier to show an example. So, here’s a copy of our consent to discharge license. It’s relatively basic but it offers a good overview of the key elements to look out for as follows:

Nature of discharge: this is essentially a statement relating to what the license allows you to discharge. In Detectronic’s case it is waste water derived from the cleaning and testing of measuring equipment.

Sewer affected: the water authority will always stipulate where the trade effluent must be discharged. In our case it is into the foul sewer located on Regent Street.

Maximum volume of discharge: this is the maximum about of trade effluent you are permitted to discharge in any one days of 24 hours. We must not exceed 3m3.

Maximum rate of discharge: in relation to the maximum volume the water authority will also inform you of the highest rate at which your trade effluent may be discharged. We must not exceed 1 litre/sec.

Every license will also provide details of the temperature and pH value that must be adhered to. The standard temperature is no higher than 43.3°C and the pH must not be less than 6 or greater than 10.

In addition, it is imperative to note that you must provide and maintain an inspection chamber or manhole. This is so that the water authority can obtain a sample of the trade effluent at any time they wish to do so. Moreover, your license will state that ‘suitable apparatus for measuring and automatically recording the volume and composition of the trade effluent shall be provided and maintained…’ that’s where we can help you!

Knowledge is power

Understanding trade effluent and the volume of water entering and wastewater leaving your plant gives you knowledge. You can provide the data to the WaSC, enabling  the correct volumes to be included in your license. Knowing exactly how much you are discharging means you’ll be invoiced correctly. If you have no idea, you could be paying way more that you should. Detectronic is a specialist in industrial trade effluent services. We have a range of water flow and water quality monitoring products and services to give you accurate data.

As mentioned previously, your license may insist on having specialised monitoring equipment in place; this a key factor to address. There are many different monitors available so it’s worth taking the time to ascertain what will provide the correct solution for your requirements. We have a number of options including our MSFM MCERTS flow meter and ORAKEL System.

Our MSFM MCERTS flow meter is a self-contained battery powered insertion multi-sensor monitor. It is certified to deliver guaranteed flow measurement accuracy for sites which require verification by MCERTS inspectors. Our ORAKEL System incorporates a highly versatile control and display unit. It can accommodate up to 16 sensors to measure different flow and quality characteristics. As a result you get a fully bespoke solution for wastewater and industrial water monitoring environments. Water quality sensors can also be incorporated to measure pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen levels and many more parameters. Your licence stipulates what you must measure in order to meet specific obligations under the Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control (IPPC) Directive.

In summary, to ensure you understand your consent license and to ensure it’s as accurate as possible, you must understand your processes. The only way to do that is through ongoing monitoring. By monitoring volumes, flows, temperatures or chemical composition you will have all the information you need to both meet your statutory obligations AND fully comprehend your trade effluent license!