Victorian Water law provides a framework of legislation, codes and guidelines that protect your consumer rights and set out obligations for water businesses and their customers.
Our customer service codes are part of this framework and set out minimum service standards and obligations on water businesses to protect Victorian water customers.
Each water business is required to publish a customer charter to inform customers about the services performed by the water business and the respective rights and responsibilities of the water business and of customers.
The Customer Service Code (Urban Water Businesses) is relevant to metropolitan and regional water businesses supplying water, reticulated non-potable water, recycled water and sewerage services to urban customers. It covers consumer issues such as billing, quality and reliability of supply, restriction of water supply practices and complaint handling. It also sets out the information water businesses must make available for their customers.
The Rural Water Customer Service Code sets minimum standards for water businesses providing irrigation services, other supplies of water for domestic and stock use, and granting of certain licenses.
The Trade Waste Customer Service Code sets out obligations on water businesses and Melbourne Water specific to the management of trade waste services. It provides water businesses with a consistent, transparent and timely decision making approach to trade waste management throughout Victoria.
If you are dissatisfied with how your water business has applied these codes you should first raise the matter with your water business. If you are not satisfied with its response you can make a complaint about the water business to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV). The Commission can also assist with interpreting whether a business has complied with our codes.
Guaranteed service levels
If your business fails to deliver some minimum service standards, it may need to pay affected customers. These services (and the associated payments) are called guaranteed service levels (GSLs), which we approve as part of our water price reviews.
Water businesses must identify and pay affected customers as soon as practicable after the event. You can find more information on guaranteed service levels in the related code.
The guideline for New Customer Contributions sets out a framework for negotiation, rather than minimum standards. It was introduced to streamline the negotiations around up-front costs for developers connecting to a water business’s water, sewerage and recycled water systems.
The guideline identifies two types of contributions:
- Standard —approved by the commission in each water business’s price determination, or
- Negotiated —agreed between the developer and the water business.
Find out more about new customer contributions in the commission’s explanatory note. Customers and water businesses can use the commission’s model to make sure that negotiated contributions address each principle included in the guideline.
As this is a commercial negotiation, if you are unable to reach agreement with your water business directly, you can seek commercial arbitration through VCAT.
The Water Industry Act 1994 (Vic) and the Water Act 1989 (Vic) are administered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and set out consumer obligations when dealing with water businesses which include:
- providing notice to water businesses if you move premises,
- observing restrictions imposed by water businesses,
- ensuring your water meter is accessible,
- removing trees on request,
- not altering any works connected to the water businesses’ works without the businesses’ consent.
The Essential Services Commission Act 2001 (Vic.) sets out the overall objectives of the commission, and specific powers relating to price regulation and price determinations.