Facilities for handling substances hazardous to water are subject to special legal regulations. The task of these regulations and their enforcement is to protect groundwater and surface waters (lakes, streams, rivers) from contamination by substances hazardous to water. Legal regulations can be found in federal law
- in §§ 62 and 63 of the Water Resources Act (WHG) and
- the Ordinance on Installations for Handling Substances Hazardous to Water - Plant Ordinance (AwSV).
These regulations specify requirements for the condition, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of facilities for handling substances hazardous to water.
According to Section 62 (3) WHG, substances hazardous to water are solid, liquid and gaseous substances that are capable of causing adverse changes to the water quality on a permanent basis or to a not merely insignificant extent.
These include in particular:
- Acids, alkalis, poisons,
- liquid and water-soluble hydrocarbons,
- halogen-, nitrogen- and sulfur-containing organic compounds,
- mineral oils and mineral oil products,
- slurry, liquid manure, silage leachate and comparable substances produced in agriculture (e.g. solid manure, silage, biomass from basic agricultural production).
Facilities for handling substances hazardous to water are
- independent and stationary units or units in stationary use in which substances hazardous to water are stored, filled, transferred, produced, treated or used in the commercial sector or in the area of public facilities, as well as
- Pipeline systems that do not exceed the area of the plant premises, are accessories of a facility for handling substances hazardous to water or connect facilities that are in close spatial and operational connection (Section 62, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 WHG).
Units are considered to be stationary or in stationary use if they are operated for more than half a year at one location for a specific operational purpose; plants may consist of several plant components.
Examples of units include fuel oil consumer units, service stations, petroleum refineries, delivery zones at trucking companies, biogas plants, biomass storage facilities, and liquid manure tanks.
The construction or substantial modification of facilities for handling substances hazardous to water that are subject to testing (e.g. heating oil consumer facilities from hazard level B - i.e. from a storage tank volume of more than 1,000 l or biogas facilities with exclusively agricultural fermentation substrates over 100 m³) must be reported to the district administration authority (§ 40 Para. 1 AwSV).
Plants subject to inspection must be inspected for their proper condition in accordance with the inspection dates and intervals specified in Annex 5 or 6 AwSV.
Likewise, the district administrative authority must be notified of any measures taken at a plant that lead to a change in the hazard level. Measures that lead to a change in the hazard level could be, for example, a more frequent filling or emptying of filling plants, as this increases the average daily throughput, the expansion of a storage facility by additional storage containers or the use of a water-polluting substance with a higher water hazard class.
The notification must be made in writing to the responsible district administration authority at least six weeks prior to the construction, substantial modification or taking of measures that lead to a change in the hazard level.
In addition to the above-mentioned cases, a change of operator is also subject to notification (§ 40 Para. 4 AwSV).
Liquid manure, slurry and silage leachate plants (JGS plants) are also subject to notification in the sense of the above-mentioned explanations insofar as they exceed the following plant volumes:
- Storage facilities for silage leachate - Over 25 m³
- Storage facilities for solid manure or silage - Over 1000 m³
- Other JGS facilities - Over 500 m³
The following are exempt from the obligation to notify
- Facilities for the storage, filling or handling of substances hazardous to water for which a suitability determination is applied for in accordance with Section 63 (1) WHG
- other facilities that are the subject of a licensing procedure under other legal provisions, provided that this procedure also ensures compliance with the requirements of the AwSV
- the substantial modification of an aforementioned other installation requiring approval
- the mere operation of (existing) installations
More detailed information and advice on notification and the necessary documents can be obtained from the "Fachkundige Stellen Wasserwirtschaft" at the district office or the independent city (see link to district administrative authorities under "Responsible for you").