Water services legislation

Water services provided in Western Australia are regulated under the Water Services Act 2012.
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The Water Services Act 2012 (the Act) was passed by Parliament in September 2012 and came into effect in November 2013.

The Act enables water service providers to deliver water supply, irrigation, sewerage and drainage services.

The commencement of the Water Services Act 2012 required the issuing of guidelines, approval of the ombudsman scheme and identification of drainage assets. A new code of practice (family violence) came into effect in 2020. You can read more about these below.

Drainage works of the Water Corporation

The Water Services Act 2012 clarifies the ownership of works, particularly non-metropolitan drainage assets.

The Act allows the Minister for Water to declare a natural feature (such as a creek) a drainage asset of a licensee. This has been done for the drainage assets of the Water Corporation. Where the asset is built by a licensee, the drain belongs to that licensee.

The Water Services Regulations 2013 require that the plans of declared drainage assets be authorised by the Director General of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

You can download the authorised plans below:

Guidelines for infrastructure contributions

An infrastructure contribution (also known as a headworks or developer charge) is a payment by a property developer to a water service provider for the timely availability of water services.

Water service providers typically pay for infrastructure provisions and expansion with revenue from a combination of upfront infrastructure contributions and ordinary customer bills.

State-owned water utilities (Water Corporation, Aqwest and Busselton Water) have power to levy infrastructure contributions under the Water Services Act 2012.

You can access the two sets of guidelines below - one for Water Corporation and one for other water service providers:

Water Services Ombudsman Scheme

The Water Services Act 2012 introduced Western Australia’s first water Ombudsman to resolve disputes between customers and utilities.

The scheme is funded by industry at a low cost to water utilities and is free for customers to use.

The Ombudsman has statutory powers to make binding determinations about a complaint or a dispute.

If you have a complaint, lodge it first with your water provider.

Under the Water Services Code of Conduct, the provider is required to try to resolve the complaint within 15 business days, starting from the day your complaint was received. You can seek a review of a provider's decision by the Ombudsman.

Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Service Standards)

The Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Service Standards) 2018 (the code) is a customer charter on good service provision, which originally came into effect in July 2013.

It establishes a customer protection framework that prescribes minimum service standards and requirements for water service providers and makes their obligations to customers clear.

The Minister for Water has the power under the Water Services Act 2012 to make codes that will apply to the way that water service providers operate and deliver services to customers.

Who does the code apply to?

The code applies to all providers of water supply, sewerage, irrigation and drainage services licensed by the Economic Regulation Authority, unless they have received an exemption from the Minister for Water.

Providers are required to comply with the code as part of their licence conditions.

What does the code cover?

The code covers the following areas:

  • Connection of water supply
  • Billing
  • Payment
  • Financial hardship policy
  • Restriction practices
  • Complaints about water services
  • Provision of information and communication services to customers
  • Faults, emergencies and interruptions affecting water services; and
  • Requirements for supply of water to persons with special requirements or needs.

Water services legislation family violence code

You can find information on this code and download the guideline for water service providers in addressing family violence on the Water services legislation family violence code webpage. 

Regulatory gatekeeping assessments

We undertake regulatory impact assessments for all regulatory proposals going to Cabinet, under guidance from the Regulatory Gatekeeping Unit within the Department of Finance.

The assessment is a two-stage process to determine the impact of a proposal on business (including government business), consumers and the economy.

Stage one is the Preliminary Impact Assessment (PIA) – this brief assessment determines whether a full assessment, in the form of a Regulatory Impact Statement, is necessary based on the impacts of the proposal.

Stage two, the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), is a more in-depth assessment consisting of a consultation regulatory impact statement and finally a decision regulatory impact statement.

Regulatory impact assessments of water services legislation 

The regulatory impact assessments undertaken during the development of water services legislation currently in force are available below.

Preliminary Impact Assessments (Stage one)

Recent Regulatory Impact Statements (Stage two)