Why Do Companies Need Permission to Discharge Waste into the Sewer?
A number of our environmental health and safety articles have talked about how contaminants can easily be carried over large areas by water, with this pollution bringing about death and destruction to living organisms such as plants, insects, fish and other animals. As well as deliberate discharges into watercourses, this form of pollution can also be brought about through rainfall or flooding of a site, which carries away contaminants into the local environment.
Whilst rainfall and flooding can carry away large amounts of contaminant and cause significant harm, the direct discharge of waste into a watercourse can often be more damaging. This is because it is usually in a much higher concentration, and will especially cause health issues for those fish and other aquatic creatures which are present in the water near the source where the waste is discharged and enters the waterway.
The potential devastation that can be caused by the direct discharge of waste into a sewer means that legislation exists in developed countries across the world which prohibits the discharging of waste and contaminated water into the sewer or watercourses without a valid permit to do so. The granting of this permit is only done so when officials have deemed that the quantity and/or type of waste being discharged is within accepted guidelines in terms of its potential impact upon the environment. Inspections and monitoring is also likely to be performed by external inspectors to ensure that discharges of waste still complies with the original terms for which the permit was issued, i.e. a higher concentration or different substance is not being discharged by the company after they have received a permit. Companies should also perform their own internal monitoring and checks to ensure that they are still within acceptable parameters and so will not get into trouble with regulators.