Regulators play a key role in setting economic, environmental and social obligations upon water corporations. The following section describes the key regulatory areas in the water industry in Victoria.
Water Resource Management
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has responsibility for managing Victoria’s water resources in partnership with the Victorian water corporations.
The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) has responsibility for the implementation and oversight of the sectors financial management standards.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has responsibility for the regulation of drinking water in Victoria, in particular the implementation and oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003.
EPA Victoria monitors and oversees the environmental performance of the State’s water sector, which includes licensing for the discharge of treated wastewater into waterways and the management of biosolids generated at treatment plants.
The Essential Services Commission (ESC) is responsible for the economic regulation of the water sector including price regulation. The regulatory framework that guides the ESC’s role and approach to price regulation is set out in the Essential Services Commission Act and the Water Legislation (Essential Services Commission and other Amendments) Act 2003.
The detail is set out in the Water Industry Regulatory Order (WIRO) 2003 that provides, among other things, that the ESC must issue a price determination setting out the nature of price arrangements to apply for the 3 year period commencing 1 July 2005.
The Water Industry Regulatory Order (WIRO) 2003 provides scope for the ESC to specify standards and conditions in relation to services and supply applicable to end-use customers with whom a water business is obliged to comply with, by either approving standards and conditions included in a water business’s Water Plan, specifying them in a Code, or a combination of the two.
The Customer Service Code applies to the three metropolitan retail and the thirteen regional water businesses from 1 July 2005 except for Part A (Separate Written Agreements) and Part C (Customer Charters) which took effect from 1 November 2004.
All urban water businesses have a separate charters developed by the business and approved by the Regulator. Charters are available on individual businesses websites.
Water businesses have independent skill-based boards, appointed by and reporting to the Minister for Water. Board members are responsible for overseeing the management of water business in line with the roles and responsibilities outlined under the relevant Act. Corporate governance responsibility for the water sector is divided between the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) and the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF).
The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) provides an independent dispute resolution and information service for Victoria’s utility customers.