Approval for indirect discharge of wastewater

With a few exceptions, every discharge of commercially used wastewater into the municipal sewage system or into a body of water is subject to approval under water legislation as a direct or indirect discharge permit. As part of this water law procedure, the following three questions are essentially answered (in detail) for the discharge operation in the application for indirect discharge:

  1. Where does the water for production come from?
  2. What is done with the water, i.e. how is the wastewater produced?
  3. How is the wastewater treated and brought to a dischargeable state?

Although everything that is not prohibited is generally permitted, there is an exception to this due to the overriding influence on the common good in water law: everything that is not permitted is prohibited (so-called repressive prohibition with exemption proviso). In concrete terms, this means that an official permit is always required for the wastewater discharge (and also if the wastewater or production changes, e.g. a “Rösler” mass finishing machine is added), sometimes even a permit for the wastewater plant itself or a more complex approval procedure, e.g. if there is a so-called IED operation according to 2010/75/EU or 4th BImSchV.

As water discharge permits are generally limited to 20 years, they must be renewed regularly. Although there is no extension of an indirect discharger permit under administrative law, in our experience it has become customary to refer to the existing permit in this respect.

The actual limit values under water law (more precisely: monitoring values) generally correspond to those in the relevant Annex to the Wastewater Ordinance, Part D, for indirect dischargers. In some special cases, the monitoring values from the respective drainage statutes continue to be relevant, e.g. the pH value and in particular the sulphate value for wastewater. If sulphate is used during operation, the monitoring values according to the state of the art are generally not to be complied with, but are to be agreed in a legal discussion with the owner of the sewer network. Furthermore, the process water treatment, i.e. according to Annex 31 of the Wastewater Ordinance, must be separated from the production wastewater if necessary and the optimum mixing point must be defined. Depending on the application, this results in no state monitoring values (municipal drainage statutes, on the other hand, have no exception here), separate state monitoring or joint state monitoring under mixed calculation.

As part of a (new) permit, other related legal areas are often also considered, e.g. the AwSV for chemical storage containers, so-called LAU facilities. Hydrochloric acid storage tanks in particular have been the focus of attention since 2022, as they are subject to expert inspections at least every 5 years, regardless of the maximum quantity stored.

As part of the approval procedure, proof of training for the operating team and corresponding instructions for the operation of the wastewater treatment plant are often required, which can be provided in full or in part.

Are you planning a change to your production with an impact on wastewater, is your wastewater discharge permit expiring or would you like to have a new location approved? Please do not hesitate to contact us.