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Last edited 10 Jul 2019
Water Industry Act 1991
The Water Industry Act 1991 is ‘…an Act to consolidate enactments relating to the supply of water and the provision of sewerage services, with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission’.
The Act is in three parts. Part I relates to water charging in England and Wales and is based on a Government consultation document, ‘Water Charging in England and Wales: A New Approach’, published in April 1998. Part II relates to the water industry in Scotland and Part III contains supplemental provisions.
- The duties and powers of statutory undertakers.
- Licensing of water suppliers.
- Protection of customers.
- Quality and sufficiency of supplies.
- The efficient use of water.
- Sewerage services.
The Act was amended by the Water Industry Act 1999, an Act ‘…to make further provision in relation to England and Wales as to charges in respect of the supply of water and the provision of sewerage services and to make provision in relation to Scotland for the establishment and functions of a Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland; and for connected purposes’.
- Prohibited disconnecting the water supply to domestic customers for reasons of non-payment.
- Limited the circumstances in which companies could charge domestic customers on a metered basis.
- Allowed suppliers to continue to charge customers on the basis of rateable value.
Water companies are not permitted to disconnect or restrict a domestic water supply if a customer owes them money. They can however take customers to court to recover money owed, and bailiffs may be permitted take goods to sell if the judgement is not settled.
The Water Act 2003 further amended the Act:
- Giving water companies a duty to prepare and publicise drought plans.
- Placing water companies under an enforceable duty to further water conservation.
- Introducing provisions for the better operation and regulation of the industry.
- Transferring responsibility for the decision to fluoridate water to the Strategic Health Authority and the Welsh Assembly, in consultation with local communities.
The Water Act 2014 further amended the Act and also introduced changes to other legislation. It was seen as a major development for companies operating within the industry and for commercial water customers. The aim of the 2014 Act was to reform the water industry to make it more innovative and responsive to customers and to increase the resilience of water supplies to natural hazards such as droughts and floods. It was intended to introduce greater competition into the market and bring benefits to businesses and the economy. It applies to England and Wales, with some provisions also applying in Scotland.
For more information see: Water Act 2014.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Environment Agency.
- Environmental performance of the water and sewerage companies.
- Mains water.
- Passive water efficiency measures.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- The State of the Environment: Water Resources.
- Types of water.
- Water Act 2014
- Water conservation.
- Water consumption.
- Water quality.
- Water resources.
- Water transfers and interconnections.
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