About the regulatory and assurance framework
The Regulatory and Assurance Framework is designed to make sure that local water utilities can manage risks and service needs effectively and strategically. It defines the sector’s vision and the role of local water utilities. It also sets out the Department of Planning and Environment’s regulatory objectives, its regulatory and assurance functions and associated processes.
This framework applies to local water utilities in regional NSW and started on 1 July 2022.
The framework represents a significant change to how the activities of local water utilities have been regulated and supported in the past.
The department is committed to a stronger partnership approach and culture. This will empower and enable local water utilities to address risks and strategic challenges effectively and efficiently based on locally developed plans and management systems.
Local water utility sector vision
Our vision is for safe, secure, sustainable and affordable water and sewerage services for healthy and resilient communities, businesses and the environment, now and into the future.
We are committed to continual monitoring of the department's performance as a regulator of local water utilities and continual improvement of our processes.
Since June 2021, the department has undertaken a 6-monthly survey of the local water utility sector to understand stakeholders’ views about how we regulate, support and work in partnership with local water utilities and to identify where we can improve.
Regulatory and assurance functions
To pursue it regulatory objective, the department has the following regulatory and assurance functions.
- providing assurance of the effectiveness of utility strategic planning (section 3 of this framework).
- providing oversight of utility’s dividend payments (applicable to councils only under section 409(6) of the Local Government Act) (section 4 of this framework).
- giving approvals for applications under section 60 of the Local Government Act and section 292(1)(a) of the Water Management Act (section 5).
- inspecting water and sewage treatment works for the purposes of informing further action (section 6).
- concurrence to the discharge of liquid trade waste (section 7).
What the framework covers
Local water utilities are governed in NSW by the Local Government Act 1993 and the Water Management Act 2000, as well as the:
- Public Health Act 2010
- Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
- Dams Safety Act 2015
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Water Act 2007 (Commonwealth).
At times, other relevant legislative and regulatory instruments can be used to govern local water utilities.
The framework covers:
- local government councils carrying out water supply and sewerage functions under Division 2, Part 3, Chapter 6 of the NSW Local Government Act 1993
- water supply authorities carrying out water supply and sewerage functions under the NSW Water Management Act 2000
- guidelines for managing the provision of water supply and sewerage services by councils under section 409(6) of the Local Government Act 1993.
This framework contributes to the implementation of relevant NSW Government commitments under the National Water Initiative, National Competition Policy, and the NSW Water Strategy.
Internal quality assurance
The department uses a quality assurance framework to ensure its internal processes and capabilities are fit for purpose to operate the Regulatory and Assurance Framework.
Have your say
We continually incorporate feedback into our program and would like to hear more about what you think about the program elements. To have your say, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org