Page 3: Customer Service Committees (CSCs)
Under the Water Act, ten regional OFWAT Customer Service Committees were established by the Director General. There is one Customer Service Committee for each region covering the water and sewerage company areas and incorporating the water supply companies which also fall in that area. The CSCs are independent of water companies. These committees represent the interests of customers and investigate customers’ complaints.
Drinking Water Inspectorate
The main role of the DWI is to check that water companies are carrying out their obligations, in the interests of public health, with regard to the quality of water we drink and use. While doing so, they make sure that companies comply with legal requirements and investigate incidents which affect water quality and advise the Secretary of State on prosecution of water companies if water which is unfit for human consumption has been supplied. In doing this, they investigate incidents and concerns affecting water quality and monitor the large numbers of tests carried out each year by the Water Service Companies.
The Environment Agency and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF)
This non-departmental public body came into operation on 1st April 1996 to inherit the functions from the National Rivers Authority (NRA), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) and the waste regulation activities of local authorities. The Agency operates in eight regions and was set up to provide a more integrated approach to environmental management and the regulation of activities affecting the environment. The Environment Agency has inherited a range of traditional responsibilities previously undertaken by the NRA, as well as the oversight of industrial processes with the greatest pollution potential, pollution regulation and control.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food appoints two members of the Environment Agency to reflect MAFF’s responsibilities for flood defence and fisheries. The Ministry appoints members of regional flood defence committees and also licences, monitors and controls the deposit of substances in the sea.
Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) and The Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
The role of the MMC is as a court of appeal both for the Director General of Water Services (OFWAT) and the Water Service Companies. In doing so it provides a counter-balance against the power of the Director General.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is a senior governmental agency which deals with regulations under a number of different Acts of Parliament which might relate to issues affecting water customers.
Legislation and Codes of Practice
Various Acts of Parliament introduced by successive Governments have a regulatory effect upon the water industry. The Water Act of 1989 was almost entirely replaced by a number of consolidation Acts in 1991, such as the Water Industry Act and the Water Resources Act.
There are a number of statutory agreements which by law require water companies to keep their products, services and activities within certain standards. These cover areas such as the environment, agriculture and the use of private land.