Trade effluent

Under the Water Industry Act 1991, any wastewater produced on trade premises (and in pursuit of a trade or business) is defined as ‘trade effluent’. This does not include domestic sewage – which is defined as wastewater produced as a result domestic usage, such as washing, food and drink, or using the toilet.

Trade effluent is any liquid waste (effluent) that is discharged into our public foul sewers from a business or an industrial process. 

If your business involves the manufacture or processing of materials such as chemicals, metal finishing, food and drink manufacture, or even if you operate a car wash or laundrette, and you discharge wastewater into our public foul sewer, then it is likely that the discahrge is considered trade effluent. 

In order to discharge trade effluent from a trade premises in the North West to the public sewer you will require permission from United Utilities. We call this a ‘trade effluent consent’ and it is a legal requirement for trade effluent discharges to be agreed with us.

Trade effluent control applies to all businesses, from independent traders to large multi-national companies. Even small discharges of only a few litres a day may require consent. 

If you operate a trade effluent process and require consent to discharge into the public foul sewer. Please contact your retailer who will provide you with the relevant application form to complete and submit on your behalf.

You can search our trade effluent public register for all active consents.

Read more about our trade effluent services within Frequently Asked Questions.

Please also take a look at the following links for further advice:

If you have a spillage or emergency on site

In the event of a spillage of chemicals, product or trade waste at your premises, you’ll need to take action quickly in order to prevent or minimise any discharge to the sewerage network. You should have an Incident Management Procedure in place, and all your employees should be familiar with it; in addition, site drainage plans and Material Safety Data Sheets should be readily available for viewing by the appropriate people. If there has been a spillage, please take the following actions:

  1. As far as possible, please prevent the spilled material from entering any drains on site.
  2. If the spilled material has passed into the site drainage system, please Contact us immediately on 0345 672 3723.

You may also need to contact the Environment Agency.