Introduction to German Ordinance on Facilities Handling Substances that are Hazardous to Water (AwSV)

Little Pro on 2019-01-07

Ordinance on Facilities Handling Substances that are Hazardous to Water(AwSV, Verordnung über Anlagen zum Umgang mit wassergefährdenden Stoffen) is a new regulation published in April 2017 and coming into force on 1 Aug 2017 in Germany. It replaces the General Administrative Regulation under the Federal Water Act on the Classification of Substances Hazardous to Water in Water Hazard Classes (VwVwS). Its purpose is to protect bodies of water from detrimental changes to their characteristics caused by substances that are hazardous to water emanating from facilities handling these substances.

Overview View of AwSV

AwSV sets the rules to determine water hazard class (WGK) for a substance and mixture using CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures as assessment basis. It also introduces a new category of substances: “Generally hazardous to water” (with no WGK assigned) for certain substances and mixtures, e.g., floating liquids. For the mixtures assessments, the M factor of a substance classified as toxic to the aquatic environment will need to be taken into account.


This ordinance shall not apply to:

  1. the handling of substances that are non-hazardous to water as published in the Federal Gazette,
  2. non-stationary facilities and facilities not used in a stationary manner in which substances that are hazardous to water are handled, as well as
  3. underground storage facilities pursuant to § 4(9) of the Federal Mining Act.
  4. aboveground facilities with a volume not exceeding 0.22 m3 in the case of liquid substances or with a mass not exceeding 0.2 tonnes in the case of gaseous and solid substances.
  5. if the volume of substances that are hazardous to water is negligible, as long as they are being handled together with other substances in a facility over the facility’s entire duration of operation.

Water Hazard Class (WGK) Classification

German's Federal Water Act requires that facilities handling substances and mixtures that are hazardous to waters must be built and operated in a way that water bodies are protected from pollutions. To this end, the Water Hazard Class (WGK) of a substance or mixture has to be determined, communicated and documented. The annex I of AwSV provides guidance on WGK classification

There are three water hazard classes (WGK). 

  • 1: low hazard to waters;
  • 2: hazard to waters;
  • 3: severe hazard to waters;

Furthermore, substances can be classified as non-hazardous to water (nwg) or are deemed hazardous to water in general (awg).

The following substances and mixtures are deemed to be hazardous to water in general and are not classified into water hazard classes:

  1. commercial fertilisers, especially slurry or solid manure, 
  2. liquid manure,
  3. animal excrement of non-agricultural origin, also combined with litter or in processed form,
  4. silage seepage,
  5. silage or ensiled material in which silage seepage can accumulate,
  6. fermentation substrates of agricultural origin for producing biogas, as well as the liquid and solid fermentation residues that can accumulate during fermentation,
  7. floating liquid substances that are published in the Federal Gazette by the Federal Environment Agency in accordance with Appendix 1 point 3.2, and mixtures which consist solely of such substances, as well as
  8. solid mixtures subject to a different classification in accordance with 

Read more: How to claculate German water hazard class (WGK)

Operator's Responsibility

Substances that are currently not published with a WGK classification in the Bundesanzeiger or on UBA's website are regarded as not classified and must be regarded as highly hazardous to water (WGK 3) for reasons of precaution. Facility operators are obliged to self-classify these substances according to Annex 1 of AwSV and to submit the WGK documentation to the Umweltbundesamt (UBA).

All mixtures have to be self-classified. WGK classifications of mixtures are not submitted to the Umweltbundesamt. These classifications have to be documented according to Appendix 2 Number 2 or 3 of the AwSV and have to be made available to the local authorities on request.


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