South East Water is a state-owned company with an independent board elected by our shareholder – the Victorian Government. We operate under a licence that is issued by the Victorian Government.
There are a range of government departments and entities that regulate the water industry. Collectively, they ensure the reliability, quality and pricing fairness of the water services provided to you.
Although it can be a complex world, you may be interested to understand a bit more about the regulations and regulatory bodies in the water industry.
DEECA is responsible for setting the legislative and regulatory framework that South East Water operates within, including the establishment of legal and regulatory frameworks such as the Water Industry Act 1994 and issuing of our licence.
The Minister for Water has made and issued a Statement of Obligations to South East Water. The purpose of the Statement of Obligations is to impose obligations on how we exercise our functions and powers.
DTF oversee shareholder matters and advise the Treasurer on the performance of South East Water. They also manage cashflow forecasting, monitoring and reporting of dividend, tax equivalent and financial accommodation levy payments.
South East Water provides quarterly reports and presentations to DTF on its performance. The Company pays an annual dividend and makes tax equivalent payments
More info: Department of Treasury and Finance
The Essential Services Commission is the primary economic regulator of essential utility infrastructure services in Victoria.
The ESC’s role generally involves regulating prices, service standards, market conduct and consumer protection. The ESC also publishes codes and guidelines, decisions and determinations and performance reports and conducts independent external audits to ensure we are complying with various regulatory requirements. These publications impose obligations on South East Water and provide information to customers and other stakeholders.
The ESC has released a number of codes and guidelines with which the regulated water businesses must comply. From the ESC’s Customer Service Code, South East Water has produced a Customer Service Charter which outlines the service standards offered to our customers.
In June 2023, the ESC accepted our offer of an Enforceable Undertaking to improve protections for customers experiencing family violence.
ESC Performance Reports
The ESC reports publicly the performance of Victoria's fifteen urban water businesses with the aim of stimulating competition by comparison and to inform customers about the service levels they receive. The reports focus on key issues of quality, reliability and the affordability of water and sewerage services.
The ESC price setting process requires South East Water to prepare a Water Plan for assessment by the ESC. The Water Plan sets out:
- the outputs we intend to deliver in relation to service levels and regulatory and statutory obligations;
- strategies to achieve those outputs;
- the revenue required to deliver the outputs; and
- the price structure (tariffs) required to achieve the revenue required.
The EPA regulates the conditions for discharge to water, air and land, and issues penalties for non-compliance with these conditions.
The EPA issues licences for our waste water treatment plants. The EPA also liaises with South East Water on licence related or operational issues that can impact upon the environment.
More info: Environment Protection Authority
The Department of Health is responsible for setting the legislative and regulatory framework for the management of water quality in Victoria.
The Department of Health has an important role in safeguarding drinking water supplies and facilitating the safe use of alternative water supplies to both protect and enhance public health and wellbeing.
Drinking water is regulated according to the Safe Drinking Water Act (2003) and the Safe Drinking Water Regulations (2015). Recycled Water is regulated according to the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling (2006).
South East Water reports to the Department of Health on drinking water quality on a monthly and yearly basis. The Department of Health regularly audits our drinking water risk management plans and ensures that all requirements are met.
The Department of Health also validates Class A recycled water plants to ensure the risks to human health are well managed. Risk management plans for recycled water also need to be approved by the Department of Health before the plant can supply water to customers
More info: Department of Health
The Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) is an independent industry dispute resolution scheme which has the power to investigate and resolve disputes between Victorian consumers and their energy and water providers. EWOV's services are free and available to all Victorians, including residential and business customers.
EWOV’s aim is to settle problems fairly and independently, and as speedily as possible. EWOV also provides advice to the industry regulators, and energy and water providers, about any systemic problems which need to be addressed.
EWOV can be contacted on 1800 500 509 (or GPO Box 469D, Melbourne 3001).
Visit our complaints page to find how you can resolve a dispute at South East Water.
More info: Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria