Three steps to… proper wastewater disposal, or how to get a permit to discharge wastewater into surface water

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STEP I. Before you proceed with your intention

According to the Water Law, the discharge of wastewater into water or land, but also into water facilities (e.g., dam reservoirs) is a water service, requiring a water permit. The discharge of industrial wastewater, containing particularly harmful substances, into sewerage facilities owned by others is classified as a special use of water, but is also subject to the need to obtain a water permit.

In this issue we will focus on the discharge of wastewater into surface waters, in the next issue we will discuss discharge into the ground, and in the next issue we will discuss the special use of water involving the discharge of industrial wastewater containing particularly harmful substances into the sewage facilities of another entity. In the near future, we will also discuss the drainage component of storm and emergency overflows.

This time we are not going to present a step-by-step path for obtaining a water permit, because we assume that as an entity discharging wastewater and operating (or intending to operate) a wastewater treatment plant, you have the basic steps mastered. We’ll focus on the details and the grind of the Water Law in this regard.

When obtaining a water permit for the introduction of wastewater, you may (but need not) need decisions preceding this approval.

They will be:

  • exemption decision art. 77 of the Water Law Act

If your investment involves the construction of a sewage treatment plant with a sewage disposal system, and its location is in a special flood hazard area you will need an exemption from the prohibition on collecting sewage in this area.

  • exemption decision art. 176 Water Law Act

If your investment will require crossing the embankments or the related work will take place within 50 meters of them (on both sides) you will need an exemption from the prohibition of works or activities that may affect the integrity or stability of the embankments.

You must obtain these decisions before the water permit. They are issued by the relevant unit of the Polish Water Authority – the competent Director of the Regional Water Management Board.

STEP II. Necessary documents

Gather the necessary documents and apply for a water permit to discharge wastewater into surface waters. A water permit, according to Article 389 of the Water Law, is required for water services, that is, in the issue at hand, for the introduction of wastewater. In addition, you will need a permit for the construction of water facilities, i.e. an outlet with which you discharge wastewater into water.

A water permit is issued upon application for a water permit. You will obtain them from the relevant unit of the Polish Water Authority – the nearest catchment area board.

The fee for issuing a water permit is PLN 250.00 and should be paid to the account of the Polish Water Authority. If several water permits are issued in a single decision that are not identical in type, the fee is multiplied by the number of these permits.

Example: 1 x introduction of water + 1 x execution of the outlet = 2 x £250, i.e. total fee of £500

The application for a permit shall be accompanied by a water supply operation, prepared in writing, in descriptive and graphic form, as well as on a computer data carrier as a text document.

The operative must meet the requirements set forth in Art. 409 para. 1 and paragraph. 2 of the Water Law, and the descriptive part should be tailored to the type of activity to which the water permit applies.

The operative is to contain all the information indicated in Art. 409 para. 1 and paragraph. 2. If a point does not apply to wastewater discharge, the operative should state “not applicable.” Omission or deletion of a particular item will result in a call for supplementation.

The contents of the operative on the basis of which a water permit is issued for the discharge of wastewater into water are supplemented by paragraph (2). 4 Art. 409 of the Water Law. It expands the information to include data specific to wastewater injection activities. He indicates that the operative should include, among other things. The method and scope of conducting measurements of the quantity and quality of wastewater discharged into water.

In the permit, the authority may specify a method of measuring wastewater quality that is different from what you have assumed and from the regulation. This is stated in Art. Water Law. After the events on the Oder River in 2022, this may become a regular practice.

Operat mark the date of its execution. It is also important to include a description of the project that does not include specialized terms.


You can proceed with the construction work in compliance with all other applicable regulations.

According to Art. 268 of the Water Law, a fee will be charged by the Water Authority for the discharge of wastewater. The relevant Water Board will inform you of the amount after the water law decision becomes final. This fee consists of a fixed part and a variable part, depending on the quantity and quality of wastewater introduced under the water permit.

The amount of the fixed fee is determined as the product of the rate, the time expressed in days and the maximum volume of wastewater discharged into water expressed inm3/s, as specified in the water permit.

The amount of the variable fee is determined as the product of the rate and the quantity of substances discharged with wastewater into water, expressed in kilograms. The authority in this case takes the largest value resulting from the indicators: BOD5 or COD or total suspended solids or total Cl+SO4.

You are required to measure the amount of wastewater and use measuring instruments or measuring systems that allow you to measure the amount of wastewater discharged into water.

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