The classification system used in new Environment Agency guidance on concrete wash water could lead to environmental risks being underestimated, supplier Siltbuster managing director Richard Coulton has said.
The new Environment Agency guidance is set out in a regulatory position statement (RPS) entitled Managing concrete wash water on construction sites: good practice and temporary discharges to ground or to surface waters.
Coulton said the RPS classifies sites — for the purpose of determining their environmental permitting and treatment needs — based on the number of concrete deliveries received per week, but fails to take into account high pH water generated from washing other equipment used to handle wet concrete, such as concrete pumps and batch plant.
This means the risk posed to the surrounding environment from concrete wash water could be “significantly underestimated”, Coulton said. He suggested categorising each site on the total volume of high pH water generated, rather than the number of concrete truck movements, to avoid this oversight. Coulton also said he was concerned that time pressured site managers may be tempted to simply ignore the RPS and risk fines or prosecution.