The Water Industry Act 1991 – Complete Guide

Understanding Water Industry Act 1991 - Commercial Kitchens UK - Filta

Water and sewerage in England and Wales is governed by Acts of Parliament and European Directives. The legislation covers the following areas:

  • economic regulation of the sector
  • water supply
  • sewerage services
  • drinking water quality
  • environmental standards
  • customer service
  • flood and drought protection and adaptation

A particular act that covers drainage and sewerage systems is the Water Industry Act 1991. In this post we’ll give you a complete guide to the Water Industry Act 1991, read on and you will learn about:

  1. The water industry act and its relevance to restaurant operators.
  2. What it means for restaurant operators in management of Fat, oil and grease (FOG)?
  3. What you need do to comply with FOG management legislation?
  4. What bodies will check you are complying with the Water Industry Act 1991
  5. What happens if you are found not to comply with legislation

Understanding Water Industry Act 1991 and its Relevance to Restaurant Operators

In England and Wales water supply and wastewater services were privatised in 1989. The Water Industry Act 1991 is ‘An Act to consolidate enactments relating to the supply of water and the provision of sewerage services, with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission’.

The Act is  divided into 8 parts. Each part relates to a different duty or responsibility of the water company and the end users.

In our context of fat, oil and grease management, we will be looking at the provisions made in Part IV specifically under section 111 which deals with ‘restrictions on use of public sewers’-

Water Industry Act 1991 – Legislation

(1) Subject to the provisions of Chapter III of this Part, no person shall throw, empty or turn, or suffer or permit to be thrown or emptied or to pass, into any public sewer, or into any drain or sewer communicating with a public sewer
(a) Any matter likely to injure the sewer or drain, to interfere with the free flow of its contents or to affect prejudicially the treatment and disposal of its contents

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) above, chemical refuse, waste steam or a liquid of a temperature higher than that mentioned in that subsection is a prohibited substance if (either alone or in combination with the contents of the sewer or drain in question) it is or, in the case of the liquid, is when so heated—
(a)  dangerous;
(b) the cause of a nuisance; or
(c)  injurious, or likely to cause injury, to health.

(3) A person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable—

  • on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum and to a further fine not exceeding £50 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction;
  • on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both.

What Does the Water Industry Act Mean for Restaurant Operators?

The Water Industry Act 1991 states:

“(a) Any matter likely to injure the sewer or drain, to interfere with the free flow of its contents or to affect prejudicially the treatment and disposal of its contents

This means any waste material which impacts sewer network operation such as FOG must not be poured down the drain as there is a risk of blocking the sewage system. This may lead to the development of fatbergs in the sewage pipes. Check out some facts about fatbergs and why they should be avoided at all costs. Blockage of sewage pipes reduces the capacity of the sewage network which may trigger the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) which releases raw sewage (including fat, oil and grease) into the rivers and streams, thereby polluting it.

What Does The Water Industry Act Mean Restaurant Operators - Filta

What Do You Need to do to Comply with the Water Industry Act?

As a restaurant or business owner you need to ensure that you are in compliance with the Water Industry Act and there are are a few steps you can take to be compliant.

  1. Check all the pot washers, dirty sinks, grills etc drain out into a fat trap or Grease removal unit.
  2. Regularly clean the grease trap and empty the trapped grease into a waste bin.
  3. Check that the equipment listed above is serviced and maintained.

If you do not have a grease trap or grease removal unit, enlist the help of a grease trap supplier to audit your premises and specify a grease trap that is suitable and sufficient for your requirements. If you have received a Water Compliance Notice then make sure you respond accordingly and promptly to minimise any penalty you may incur like this landmark prosecution by Thames Water of a pub operator.

What Bodies Will Check Your Compliance with the Water Industry Act 1991?

There are 3 main categories of authorities that are charged with ensuring compliance with the Water Industry Act 1991 and they are:

  1. Local Council
  2. Water Authority
  3. H&S Inspectors

What Happens If You Don’t Comply With The Legislation?

Restaurants and food service establishments need to have effective grease removal equipment in place and if you don’t comply you run the risk of fines and even prison time. To help your business be compliant with the Water Industry Act we have put together a grease management handbook to help you.

Receive A Letter From A Water Company?

Letter Water Company Compliance - Grease Management UK - Filta

Have you or your business received a Water Compliance Notice from the water company or you’re not sure what to do about grease management? Speak to us for a no obligation chat on 01788 550 100, email us at or contact us online for more info and ensure your business is compliant with the Water Industry Act 1991.