Improve the regulatory and support framework

Lake Rowlands spills - August 2020

We are partnering with the sector to develop and implement an improved regulatory framework for local water utility strategic planning, technical assessment and approvals, and performance monitoring. We also commit to improving our approach as a regulator.

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Draft regulatory framework for local water utilities

The department's Consultation draft: Regulatory framework for local water utilities (PDF, 869.04 KB), was open for public consultation in March 2022.

More than 40 stakeholders participated in the engagement which included a webinar, survey and public submissions. 17 public submissions were received from stakeholders.

We are considering all submissions and will use the feedback to finalise the regulatory framework for local water utilities, for implementation from 1 July 2022.

Submissions

The following public submissions were received on the department’s draft Regulatory framework for local water utilities (PDF, 869.04 KB).

Draft guidance documents

The department recently released Draft interim guidance – Using the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework for local water utility strategic planning (PDF, 609.5 KB) for councils interested in using the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework of the Local Government Act 1993 for local water utility strategic planning.

The department will revise this guidance based on sector feedback and release an updated version with the final regulatory framework, for implementation from 1 July 2022.

Feedback on the draft should be emailed to regional.town.water@dpie.nsw.gov.au by 13 May 2022.

About the draft regulatory framework

The draft regulatory framework promotes and enables utilities to address risks and strategic challenges effectively and efficiently based on locally developed locally driven strategic planning and sound infrastructure management.

The proposed regulatory framework will be supported by a stronger partnership approach and culture from the department, promoting a collaborative approach to problem solving, with proactive engagement and a focus on solutions to support utilities to meet expectations.

The department aims to promote innovation and utility capability by shifting from an approach of telling utilities what to do, and instead giving utilities choice and flexibility within a framework of strong and outcomes focused expectations and clear and accountable regulatory processes.

The department proposes that the new regulatory framework will apply from 1 July 2022, once finalised and gazetted by the Minister for Lands and Water, replacing the '2007 Best-Practice Management of Water Supply and Sewerage Guidelines'.

The draft regulatory framework is an action in the 'Roadmap to an improved regulatory framework for local water utilities', where the department committed to making available a draft regulatory framework for broad sector consultation by the end of March 2022.

Figure 4: Roadmap
Figure: The department’s three key regulatory functions

Regulator perception survey results

A key element of the roadmap is the continual monitoring of the department's performance as a regulator of local water utilities and continual improvement of our processes.

In June 2021, the department initiated a local water utility sector survey to understand stakeholders’ views about how we regulate, support and work in partnership with local water utilities and to identify where we can improve.

The survey is designed to help track views about the department and will inform key aspects of the department’s work, including that of the TWRRP and the Water Utilities Branch. The department repeats the survey at six monthly intervals to track progress.

A summary of the survey results can be downloaded below:

Thanks to those who participated.