Wastewater discharge and reuse regulations: Mandatory compliance parameters as of May 2, 2024 Governmental Agreement No. 236-2006 in Guatemala

By: Lionel Aguilar y Cristina Sandoval

The Wastewater Discharge and Reuse Regulation came into effect on May 12, 2006 with the purpose of establishing the criteria, permissible limits and requirements that must be met for the discharge and reuse of wastewater, as well as for the disposal of sludge. The purpose of the above is to prevent adverse impact on the environment, maintain the ecological balance and promote the progressive improvement of water quality and thus contribute to the sustainability of water resources.

Compliance with the parameters for measuring wastewater characteristics was set through progressive reduction models, which were set in several stages since 2011 and must finally be met by May 2, 2024. See compliance parameters in the attached document.

Entities subject to the provisions of this regulation must comply with, among other issues detailed below, the parameters for measuring the characteristics of wastewater such as:

a. Characterization of, i) the influent, as well as the wastewater effluent; ii) the waters it generates and wishes to take advantage of and/or, iii) characterize the sludge and include the results in the technical study.

b. Biochemical oxygen demand loads.

c. Comply with stage four (as of May 2, 2024) of the maximum permissible limits of the parameters for wastewater discharges to receiving bodies consisting of temperature, fats and oils, floating matter, suspended solids, among others that go from stage one to four.

The applicability of the compliance parameters and obligations cited in the Regulation will depend on the obligated subject, that is to say a:

a. Persons who discharge their special type wastewater to the public sewage system.

b. The persons who produce wastewater for reuse.

c. Persons who partially or totally reuse wastewater.

d. Persons responsible for the management, treatment and final disposal of sludge.

In addition to the parameters for measuring the characteristics of the wastewater and other permissible limits, the regulation includes a series of obligations applicable since 2006, which generally consist of 

Technical Study. Prepare a study endorsed by technicians in the field in order to characterize effluents, discharges, water for reuse and sludge. The study must contain general information about the organization, contact person before MARN, wastewater discharge schedules, description of wastewater treatment, characteristics of effluent, water and sludge, among others. Documents consisting of location and location plans, wastewater management plan, wastewater treatment plan if discharged to a receiving body or sewer, results reports, among others.
The regulated entity must keep the Technical Study and make it available to MARN when required.
The Technical Study must be updated every 5 years or whenever necessary due to changes in the structure or building.
New generating entities must have the opinion related to the discharge of wastewater in their Environmental Evaluation Instrument.
The regulated entity, as appropriate, must characterize: a) the influent, as well as the wastewater effluent; b) the water it generates and wishes to use and/or, c) characterize the sludge and include the results in the technical study.
Comply with the parameters for measuring the characteristics of the wastewater for which the progressive reduction models were set, which were set in several stages since 2011 and which must finally be met by 2024.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) is responsible for monitoring compliance with these regulations, as well as the municipalities and other government institutions, which are obliged to inform MARN of any actions contrary to these provisions, so it is suggested that these entities promote diagnostic reviews to verify compliance with these regulations to avoid ex officio inspections or complaints.

Companies that do not comply with the parameters contained in this Governmental Agreement will be subject to the following sanctions: a) administrative sanctions such as warnings, suspension of activities, confiscation, modification or demolition of constructions, b) economic sanctions to reestablish the impact of the damage caused to the environment, each valued according to its magnitude, and c) criminal sanctions for the organization and its representatives, such as the imposition of fines for the omission of control or supervision that range from US$10,000 to US$625,000 and imprisonment from 6 months to 10 years for crimes against the environment.

If you have any questions or further information, please contact us at csandoval@consortiumlegal.com.