On 1 January 2013 the Water Industry Act 2012 (SA) repealed the Sewerage Act 1929 (SA), the Waterworks Act 1932 (SA) and the Water Conservation Act 1936 (SA) and created a new legislative foundation for South Australia's water industry. All references in this section are to the Water Industry Act 2012 (SA) unless otherwise stated.
The Act is designed to promote planning, efficiency, competition and innovation in the water industry, protect the interests of consumers and provide mechanisms for transparent price setting and the enforcement of standards of reliability and quality.
The Act regulates the water industry both economically and technically.
The Essential Services Commission of South Australia is the economic regulator, responsible for licensing, creating industry codes with which water and sewerage servicesmust comply and making final retail price determinations.
A Technical Regulator is responsible for creating standards for plumbing work and water infrastructure and giving warnings to the public in relation to the use of unsuitable equipment or practices. Authorised officers of the Technical Regulator have special powers to enter and inspect, restrict, disconnect or give directions in relation to water supply. The Technical Regulator may require information or documents and issue enforcement notices relating to compliance with the Act.
The Act also sets out responsibilities on the part of consumers to prevent water running to waste (punishable by fine of up to $2 500) [s 69] and the ability of the State Government, through the Governor, to take water conservation measures, such as restricting the purposes for which water may be used [s 92]. The following offences are some of those set out in the Water Industry Regulations 2012 (SA):
- cleaning a motor vehicle or boat from other than bucket, watering can, high pressure low volume water cleaner or a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle [sch 4 reg 3];
- watering gardens or grounds other than by hand-held hose fitted with trigger nozzle, through drip irrigation system or sprinkler between the hours of 5 pm and 10 am [ sch 4 reg 4]; and
- using water to hose down an external area covered by paving, concrete, bitumen or like unless necessary to protect public health, ensure the safety of people and animals by high pressure low volume water cleaner or hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle [sch 4 reg 5].
The maximum penalty for these offences is a fine of up to $10 000 (or an expiation fee of $315) [reg 40].
The Act maintains the Save the River Murray Levy and Fund, through which a proportion of rates is dedicated to improving the health of the river and ensuring the adequacy, security and quality of South Australia's water supply [ss 93 and 94].