Discharge of Trade Effluents to Public Sewers

Minimising Blockages

A blockage of a public sewer can have significant health and financial implications so it is important to minimise such occurences.

In recent decades, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of outlets preparing and selling hot food and drinks on a 'take-away' basis with a consequent increase in the discharge of 'fats, oils and grease' (FOGs) to sewers. As a result, it is necessary to impose limits on the discharge of effluent from “Food Service Establishments” when licencing such discharges.

The Legal Context 

Section 16(1) of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 states that:

“A person other than a sanitary authority <i.e.a local authority> shall not, after such date as may be fixed for the purpose of this section by order made by the Minister, discharge or cause or permit the discharge of any trade effluent or other matter (other than domestic sewage or storm water) to a sewer, except under and in accordance with a licence under this section granted by the sanitary authority in which the sewer is vested or by which it is controlled.”


  • regulations, signed into law in 1978 and 1992,
  • an amendment to this Act in 1990, and
  • the Water Services Act, 2007,

sanitary authorities are enabled to licence discharges of trade effluents to public sewers accordingly.

Under the Water Services Acts (No.1 and No. 2), 2013, Irish Water has been designated as the statutory body responsible for the issuing of such licences and for enforcement of licence conditions.

Control Measures

The installation and regular maintenance of an appropriately designed  'Grease Trap' or other intercepting apparatus is a very effective means of minimising the accumulations of FOGs in public sewers without hindering business activity. It is standard practice for a sanitary authority to require such measures accordingly.  

Relevant Commercial Activities

Apart from Food Service Establishments, other types of businesses such as launderettes and fuel retaillers are also required to be licenced for effluent discharge and conditions are attached to these licences as deemed appropriate by the sanitary authority.

Administration of Discharge Licencing

Irish Water will:

  • receive all applications for such licences directly,
  • issue or refuse to issue licences accordingly, and
  • manage any appeals in relation to a refusal to issue a licence

Local Authorities will:

  • review and assess licence applications as referred to them directly by Irish Water, and
  • will also draft licence conditions in consultation with Irish Water. 

Applicants, however, should not communicate unilaterally with local authorities.

Further Information

Applicants may use the following web link to request an application form from Irish Water.

Alternatively, applicants may contact Irish Water directly by writing to
              Irish Water
              PO Box 860
              South City Delivery Office

or by telephone using either of the following numbers

              Tel.: (1890) 278 278, or
                      +353 (1) 707 2828 from outside the RoI
Office Hours are from 08.00 to 20.00 on Mondays to Fridays and from 09.00 to 17.30 on Saturdays.


Completed application forms should then be returned to

               Licence Applications
               Irish Water
               P.O. Box 6000
               DUBLIN 1


Application forms should not be sent to Limerick City Council or Limerick County Council. Any form that is received will be returned forthwith.


Website Resources

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Last update:03/03/2014