The ERA is an independent statutory authority established by the Parliament of Western Australia. Our purpose is to benefit the WA community by promoting an efficient and customer focused economy. We aim to achieve this purpose through the range of regulatory functions that we perform. We also provide advice to the government on important economic issues.
The ERA has a range of regulatory functions related to water, including: issuing licences to water service providers and monitoring the performance of licensees against the conditions of their licence. We are also responsible for administering the regulatory instrument covering customer protection.
In addition to our regulatory role, we can be asked by the Government to inquire into and provide advice on matters related to water, such as what the retail price of water should be.
We are responsible for administering the water licensing scheme, including issuing and amending licences for the supply of water, sewerage, irrigation and drainage services. We also monitor and report to the Minister on the operation of the water licensing scheme.
We monitor licensees’ compliance with the conditions of their licence, by engaging an independent auditor to perform periodic compliance audits of the licensees and asset management system effectiveness reviews.
If a licensee fails to meet performance criteria or other conditions of its licence we must report this to the Minister and may enforce compliance through a range of mechanisms set out in legislation.
We are responsible for the five-yearly review of the Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Service Standards) 2013 (Water Code). The Water Code deals with the connection of water services, billing and payments, assistance for customers in financial hardship, complaints, the provision of information to customers and other matters. Any review or amendment of the Water Code must occur in consultation with a consultative committee whose members represent both the interests of consumers and licensees.
The Water Code requires certain licensees
to have a policy which explains how the licensee will deal with customers who are experiencing financial hardship. This hardship policy must be approved by us and reviewed by the licensee every five years.
As with energy prices, the State Government is responsible for setting retail water prices (the prices paid by household and business consumers for water). However, in our economic advisory role we can provide advice to the Government in relation to important economic issues that may relate to water. The Government has in the past asked us to investigate and provide advice
in relation to the following water related matters:
- how competition in the water sector could be enhanced
- the State’s management of water resources and planning
- how recycled water should be priced and
- water pricing