New rules are 'a check for the first time' on industrial waste water

The UAE Government is to regulate the waste water that industries and hospitals discharge into the sewer system.

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ABU DHABI // For the first time, the Government will regulate the waste water that industries and hospitals discharge into the sewer system. The 2010 Trade Effluent Control Regulations, issued by the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB), prohibit or limit the discharge of a host of hazardous substances, including radioactive materials and dangerous medical waste. The measures add a level of oversight to a system that posed risks not only to the waste water treatment system, but to the environment.

Nick Carter, director general of the RSB, said the regulations constituted "a check for the first time on what businesses are putting into the sewerage system". They are made necessary by the development of industry in Abu Dhabi, said Dr Rachael McDonnell at the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai. "Standard waste water systems only go so far," she said. "They cannot clean all chemicals generated by industry."

Under the new guidelines, businesses and hospitals must get consent from waste water treatment facilities before discharging their industrial waste fluids. In addition to banning some dangerous substances, such as those found in paints and pesticides, the guidelines also restrict 33 substances. These include cyanide, aluminium and boron. Discharges containing these substances will be allowed into the sewers only within allowed concentrations.

Compliance,said the RSB, will be monitored through sampling, analysis, inspections and the collection of an annual compliance report. The bureau plans to develop procedures to deal with violators, including education, improvement and termination notices. Making treated waste water safer for use partially addresses the UAE's looming water crisis. Where treated sewage effluent has been used in landscaping only, the new regulations mean the treated water could have other uses, perhaps as a coolant in industry, or for agricultural irrigation.

Under another document issued yesterday, the 2010 Recycled Water and Biosolids Regulations, sewerage service companies must guarantee the quality of waste water they produce. The standards depend on the water's intended use. Water to be used in agriculture needs to meet the strictest standards, on par with guidelines already issued by the World Health Organisation.