From 8 July 2008, the economic regulation of the water and sewerage sector was added to the Regulator's responsibilities.
In 2008, legislation was introduced to reform Tasmania’s water and sewerage industry. The reforms involved structural changes, with water and sewerage services delivered, from 1 July 2009, by three local government owned regional corporations.
In addition, the Water and Sewerage Industry Act 2008 provided for a new regulatory framework to apply to the industry, including independent regulatory oversight, customer service standards, price regulation and performance monitoring and reporting. The Regulator's functions are to:
- administer the licensing system for water and sewerage entities;
- establish and administer the customer service code;
- regulate prices, terms and conditions for water and sewerage services;
- monitor the performance of the water and sewerage industry and report on the performance of regulated water and sewerage entities; and
- carry out other functions as assigned to the Regulator by the Industry Act and its subordinate legislation.
With respect to service, the economic regulatory framework requires licensed water and sewerage entities to comply with a number of service standard obligations set out in the Water and Sewerage Customer Service Code issued by the Regulator. In addition, licensed entities are required to adopt appropriate management practices in relation to asset management, emergency management and regulatory compliance. The performance of the industry is also reviewed and reported on through State of the Industry Reports prepared by the Regulator.
As noted in the list above, the economic regulatory framework also provides for the regulation of prices for water and sewerage services. When the three regional corporations commenced operations on1 July 2009, the regulation of water and sewerage prices was undertaken by the Tasmanian Government through Interim Price Orders issued by the Treasurer. This was a temporary measure only, with water and sewerage prices being independently set by the Regulator since 1 July 2012.
In May 2012, the owner Councils of the then three licensed regional water and sewerage corporations agreed to amalgamate those entities into a single corporation. Legislation was subsequently passed to enable a single corporation, the Tasmanian Water and Sewerage Corporation Pty Ltd (TasWater), to commence operations on 1 July 2013.
Water and sewerage licensees must have their own procedures to handle customer complaints. These procedures must be consistent with recognised Australian Standards.
If a customer is dissatisfied with the way a complaint has been handled, the complaint may be lodged with the Ombudsman.