Find out if you need a permit for discharges to surface water and groundwater

Who needs to register?

Depending on the activity, you may be eligible for a registration. If you cannot meet these requirements you will need to apply for a permit. Go to our Water discharge and groundwater activity exemptions page for more information.

Before you apply

NRW offer a pre-application advice service to help you get your application right first time.  The basic level provides 2 hours of free advice, including information on which forms to complete, guidance, best practice/industry standards and how to identify environmental sensitives.

If you need more in-depth help, we offer bespoke, charged, pre-application advice as part of our discretionary advice service.

Read more about our pre-application permitting and licensing service.

Surface run-off

If the water is clean surface run-off, for example, from a roof, road, pathway or clean hard-standing area, you do not need a permit. You just need to make sure your discharge stays clean and uncontaminated. See more guidance on the Environment Agency's website.

Discharges to a public foul sewer

If you want to discharge to a public foul sewer (or a drain that connects to one) you don’t need an environmental permit, but you should contact your sewerage undertaker, which is usually your local water company.

Is my discharge covered by a low-risk regulatory position statement?

If your discharge complies with the conditions in the following guidance, you do not need an environmental permit:

Temporary water discharges from excavations Please note, we apply the guidance for England (provided on the website) to Wales.

Apply for a permit

If you want to make a discharge to surface water or groundwater and none of the above applies to you then you will need an environmental permit. 

You can:

Apply for a permit to discharge domestic effluent

Apply for a permit to discharge trade or mixed effluent

Apply for a permit to discharge water from a heat exchanger to surface water

To change an existing permit, go to ‘change (vary) an existing permit’.  To transfer ownership to a new holder, go to ‘transfer your permit’. You can also 'surrender your permit'.

Last updated