Published on Apr 16, 2024

Our lawyers in Guatemala, experts in Environmental Law, share this article on the implementation of the fourth stage of compliance with the model of progressive reduction of wastewater discharges established in Government Agreement 236-2006 Regulation of Discharges and Reuse of Wastewater and Sludge Disposal.

Wastewater is caused by human activities that contain organic, chemical and biological pollutant particles that must be treated before being disposed of in the environment. In 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) approved Government Agreement 236-2006, which regulates the discharge and reuse of wastewater, as well as the disposal of sludge. One of the purposes of the creation of this Regulation is to seek the control and prevention of the pollution of the country's water resources such as lakes, rivers and seas. For this propose, certain provisions are included that are aimed at protecting the receiving bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams, springs, groundwater, etc.) where wastewater is discharged; remediate polluted water receiving bodies with eutrophication; and promote the development of the country's water resources.

It establishes the obligation to characterize wastewater, i.e. to determine its physical, chemical and biological characteristics. This characterization is mandatory for generating entities (any individual or legal person that generates or administers wastewater of a special type, ordinary or a mixture of both). The Regulation in question lays down the parameters to be characterized and the maximum permitted limits for each of these.

The implementation of compliance with the maximum permissible limits within the parameters laid down in that Regulation was divided into four stages, each with greater requirements in terms of the maximum permissible limits. The fourth and final stage will go into effect from May 2, 2024.

Technical Study of Wastewater (ETAR)

All generating entities are required to carry out an ETAR documenting the effluent characteristics, water discharges, water disposal (receiving body or public sewer) and measurement parameters. The ETAR must be prepared by technicians specialized in the field and must have a location plan (it is locative), a wastewater management and treatment plan and a report on the results of the characterizations carried out. The ETAR must be carried out every 5 years and will remain in the protection of the generating entity, without it being necessary to present it to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) unless required by the latter.

In addition to carrying out the WWTP, the generating entities are required to carry out periodic sampling of their wastewater at least twice a year and to validate that the results of the analysis comply with the parameters established in the Regulation and in the ETAR. The results of the sampling shall be kept for at least five years and shall be made available to MARN if required.

As a result of the upcoming enforcement of stage four compliance, it can be concluded that the level of requirements for treating wastewater from generating entities will be higher. It will no longer be sufficient to have a primary wastewater treatment system such as grease traps, filtering screens, sedimentation tanks, or chemical applications. Instead, a more advanced method like wastewater treatment plants will be necessary. The specific treatment system required will depend on the activities and particles discharged by each generating entity to meet the maximum allowable limits of parameters set in the regulations.

At Arias, we have specialists in the field who can assist you in reviewing the characterization of your wastewater and wastewater treatment plants (ETAR) to ensure compliance with Government Agreement 236-2006 on Wastewater Discharges and Reuse Regulation and Sludge Disposal.

Carlos Flores - Senior Associate, ARIAS Guatemala.

The information provided by ARIAS® is presented for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers.