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Town Water Risk Reduction Program

Improve the regulatory and assurance framework

We are partnering with the sector to develop and implement an improved regulatory and assurance framework for local water utility.

Carcoar Water Filtration Plant.

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

New regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities

From 1 July 2022, the Regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities (PDF, 1613.11 KB) applies to local water utilities in regional NSW, covering local government councils exercising water supply functions under Division 2 Part 3 Chapter 6 of the Local Government Act 1993, and utilities exercising water supply functions under the Water Management Act 2000. The regulatory and assurance framework is design to ensure local water utilities manage risks effectively and strategically.

The framework represents a significant change to how the activities of local water utilities have been reviewed, regulated and supported in the past. This is centred on the department’s commitment to a stronger partnership approach and culture, to empower and enable local water utilities to address risks and strategic challenges effectively and efficiently based on locally developed plans and management systems.

Important information

The new approach to assessment and approvals of works (under section 60 of the Local Government Act 1993 or section 292(1) of the Water Management Act 2000) is fully implemented from 1 July 2022, with an online application form available as well as external guidance for local water utilities. More information for local water utilities about how to apply for an approval is available.

In 2021, we committed to ensuring that those local water utilities progressing their Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy would not be disadvantaged by the new strategic planning assurance framework. We continue to engage with all local water utilities that are currently undertaking an IWCM Strategy, including those funded under the Safe and Secure Water Program. We will work with utilities individually to develop a clear transition program through to 1 December. We will also publish draft guidance over the coming months, with final guidance in place by October.

The department worked in partnership with the local water utility sector to design the regulatory and assurance framework. A broad range of stakeholders were involved in the design including local water utilities, local government representative bodies, other local water utility regulators, and the private sector. We thank the more than 200 people and organisations who have been involved in the collaborative process to design the new regulatory and assurance process.

Sections 3 and 4 of the regulatory and assurance framework, are also the new Guidelines for council dividend payments for water supply or sewerage services, under section 409(6) of the Local Government Act 1993, replacing the 2007 Best-Practice Management of Water Supply and Sewerage Guidelines. Local water utilities not making dividends payments are encouraged, but not compelled, to utilise the department’s assurance framework, experience and capacity to support effective strategic planning.

The framework is based on the actions for change and collaboration mechanisms identified in the department’s Roadmap to an improved regulatory framework for local water utilities and has been informed by extensive consultation with the sector.

Our approach to quality assurance

Our draft Quality assurance framework for the department’s regulation and assurance of local water utilities is open for public consultation until Monday, 1 August 2022.

Have your say

Cowra Sewerage Treatment Plant.

Apply for the approval of works under section 60 of the Local Government Act or section 292(1) of the Water Management Act

Townscape of Inverell. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Information about strategic planning outcome areas and how to use the IP&R framework for local water utility planning.

Culburra STP1. Image courtesy of Shoalhaven city council

The framework is based on the actions for change and collaboration mechanisms identified in the department’s Roadmap to an improved regulatory framework for local water utilities  and has been informed by extensive consultation with the sector.

Copeton Dam spilling.

The draft regulatory framework for local water utilities  was released on 31 March 2022 and was publicly available for consultation and feedback until 30 April 2022. A summary of feedback provided by the sector and public submissions are available.

Have your say

The department’s 'Proposed incident and emergency management framework for local water utilities' is open for public consultation until Monday, 18 July 2022.

Provide feedback on the proposal

Have your say

Our draft 'Quality assurance framework for the department’s regulation and assurance of local water utilities' is open for public consultation until Monday, 1 August 2022.

Provide feedback on the draft

Regulator perception survey and results

The survey is designed to track views, and help inform key aspects of the department’s work.

Review and participate in our surveys.