Water service provider investigations
Under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water may take action if information, including annual performance reporting data, indicates an unacceptable risk to water security or continuity of supply of a water or sewerage service. This includes an unacceptable risk that might have consequences in the near future (i.e. an imminent risk), or longer term.
An imminent risk exists when we reasonably believe:
- there is a risk to water security or the continuity of a water supply or sewerage service
- urgent action is necessary
- adequate measures to mitigate the risk are not in place.
When an imminent risk is identified
We may direct a service provider to take action to prevent or minimise an imminent risk to water security or to the continuity of a water supply or sewerage service.
As soon as practical after giving a direction, we will give the provider an information notice to explain the decision.
Longer term risks
We will investigate a provider's water or sewerage service if we reasonably believe there is a longer term risk to water security or to the continuity of a water or sewerage service.
Information contained within a performance report, audit report or other information held by the department will be used to assess the risk and may trigger an investigation. If pre-existing information is considered in the investigation, the provider may be asked to verify its accuracy.
An investigation will determine whether there are any substantial risks to water security or continuity of a service that need to be addressed by the service provider. Investigations can be carried out by an authorised officer as directed by the department.
An investigation report may be produced containing who conducted the investigation, the methods used and the findings and recommendations. The department will give a copy of any investigation report to the service provider.
The investigation may:
- be conducted using a desktop assessment
- involve a visit by an authorised officer to a service provider's premises
- involve a notice to request additional information from the provider
- require the department to engage an expert to investigate a risk to water security and to provide advice about complex operational or technical issues.
After an investigation, the department may give the service provider a notice claiming reasonable expenses incurred in conducting the investigation. Cost recovery can only occur if, after the investigation, the department reasonably believes there is a risk to water security or continuity of the service provider's service.
If the service provider does not pay within 30 days after the notice is given, the department may recover the amount and any interest payable from the service provider as a debt.