Skip to main content
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • Share:

Securing a safe, secure and sustainable water supply is essential to accommodating the needs of Sydney’s growing population – now and in the future. Our current strategy to deliver this is contained in the 2017 Metropolitan Water Plan.  However, we recognise that, as Sydney changes and grows, water policy and planning need to evolve to keep pace. 


We believe that securing Sydney’s water future requires the collaboration of both the government and private sectors. To address this, the government has embarked on a series of reforms designed to stimulate competition in the urban water market. These reforms feature in the 2017 Metropolitan Water Plan.

Water Industry Competition Act 2006

The Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (WIC Act) sets out a licensing and compliance framework for private suppliers of water and sewage services. It establishes strict rules to ensure drinking water meets Australian standards, recycled water is ‘fit for purpose’, and all services are delivered safely, reliably and with minimal environmental impacts.


The WIC Act encourages competition and investment by:

  • promoting new water recycling businesses
  • helping new suppliers to negotiate using existing water networks for the transportation and storage of water 
  • ensuring private schemes and the public water utilities face similar obligations, where like services are provided
  • providing equality between private and public water utilities for activities such as laying pipes in public roads and reading meters.

The Department of Planning and Environment administers the WIC Act and policy development.


The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) administers the licensing for private sector water providers. This includes considering licence applications, recommending the terms or conditions of a licence to the Minister, auditing and enforcing licences and arbitrating access agreements. 


Read about the licensing process, current licence holders, licence applications and exemptions to requiring a licence

Water Industry Competition Act Amendments (2014)

In early 2012, the government amended the WIC Act to streamline the regulation of licensees and provide greater protection for customers and the community. These amendments became legislation in 2014. Key changes include:

  • focusing the licensing on utility-like schemes, bulk water and sewerage facilities, and other prescribed infrastructure
  • removing barriers to entry for the private sector
  • ensuring buyers are aware if the private sector will provide water services to their property.

Proposed reforms

The government has started to review and revise the supporting regulation so that it aligns with the Water Industry Competition Act Amendments (2014). The review is due for completion in 2019 following consultation with the broader water industry. The proposed reforms include: 

  • establishing a new state-wide licensing system. 
  • introducing a new risk-based approvals process for new providers. 
  • further strengthening customer protections. 
  • reviewing the types of recycling schemes regulated by the Act to focus on high-risk schemes. 
  • transitioning existing WIC licensees and some council schemes to the new system.

Read more about the proposed changes


Page last updated: 14/11/2019