Any trade or business that produces liquid waste matter in the course of carrying out its trade or business is producing a trade effluent. Effluents may be discharged to the sewerage system or, in some circumstances, directly to a watercourse, groundwater or the sea. Discharge to sewer and discharge to water are covered by different legislative regimes.

Trade effluent discharges to sewer are regulated by sewerage undertakers (often, but not always, the same company that provides your water) to ensure the protection of people, the environment and the sewer system. Regulation of discharges to sewers is by a consent system. It is an offence to discharge into a sewer without consent or to breach the conditions of a discharge consent.

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