AGY-482 | Sydney Water Corporation Limited

NSW State Archives Collection
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The Water Board (Corporatisation) Act, 1994 (Act No.88, 1994) established the Sydney Water Corporation Limited from 1 January 1995 and abolished the Water Board. (1) Sydney Water, as the agency was popularly known, was an unlisted public company, owned by the New South Wales Government which was represented by five shareholders who were Ministers in the Government.

The roles of the Corporation were: (a) to protect the environment (operating in accordance with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development); (b) contribute to public health; and (c) to operate in a commercial manner.

The restructure of the Water Board to form the new Corporation included the changing of the water pricing system to a service-and-user-based charge in order to promote water conservation. Another change implemented was the introduction of a Customer Contract, embodied in the Corporation's operating licence, giving customers rights to legal compensation, which did not exist under the former Water Board.

The activities of the organisation were divided between two arms:
a) core business, which concentrates on the delivery of quality products, water, waste water and storm water. The core operations business is supported by policy planning and resourcing businesses which position the corporation to meet market demands;
b) The trading enterprise provides support services on a competitive basis to the corporation and also competes in the open marketplace.

The organisation was divided into four regional offices: Northern, Greater Western, Illawarra and Central. These regions were responsible for operating, maintaining and managing water, waste water and stormwater drainage systems, urban development planning and a range of associated customer services. There were also 16 Customer Centres which assess water rates and charges, answer telephone enquiries, issues replacement accounts, deal with pensioner rebates and rate exemption applications. (2)

Under the Water Board (Corporatisation) Act there were clear provisions for public scrutiny and transparency in the Board's operating licence, performance targets, and preparation of land management plans. The Board was not only made subject to Corporations Law, the Consumer Claims Tribunal and the Trade Practices Act, but also to the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, the Public Accounts Committee, the ICAC, the FOI Act, anti-discrimination legislation and the Annual Reports Act. Memoranda of understanding had to be signed with three principal government regulators: the Water Administration Ministerial Corporation, the Director-General of the Department of Health, and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Pollution reduction targets, ecological risk assessment methodologies, and ecological risk assessments all had to be done in partnership with the EPA. Formal 'audits' of conformity with the operating licence and with customer grievance provisions were also specified. (3)

On 1 January 1999 the name of the Water Board (Corporatisation) Act 1998 was changed to the Sydney Water Act 1998 by the Water Legislation Amendment (Drinking Water and Corporate Structure Act 1998 (Act No.145, 1998). (4)

On 28 May 1999 the staff attached to the Sydney Water Corporation Licence Regulator were transferred from the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to the Ministry of Energy and Utilities. (5) When the Ministry of Energy and Utilities was succeeded by the Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability on 1 January 2004 Sydney Water Corporation was related to that agency. (6) 

On 27 April 2007, the Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability was abolished and Sydney Water Corporation was then related to the Department of Environment and Climate Change. (7)

The groups of staff involved in the administration of any of the Sydney Water Act 1994 were removed from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water and added to the Department of Finance and Services on 4 April 2011. (8)

On 23 April 2014 the Sydney Water Corporation transferred from the Department of Finance and Services to the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services. (9)

On 10 April 2017 the Sydney Water Corporation related to the Department of Planning and Environment. (10)

1. NSW Government Gazette No.177, 23 December 1994.
2. NSW Government Directory, October 1995.
3. Sydney Water, Annual Report, 1995-96.
4. Water Legislation Amendment (Drinking Water and Corporate Structure) Act 1998 (Act No.145) s.5, Sch. 3[1] amending sections 1 and 4 of the Principal Act; NSW Government Gazette No.176, 18 December 1998, p.9726.
5. NSW Government Gazette No.63, 28 May 1999, pp.3670-3671.
6. NSW Government Gazette No.196, 12 December 2003, p.11208.
7. Public Sector Employment and Management (General) Order 2007 cl. 19, NSW Government Gazette No.47, 2 April 2007, pp.2099-2108.
8. Public Sector Employment and Management (Departments) Order 2011 (2011 No 184) cl. 33A, NSW Legislation Website, 3 April 2011, as amended by Public Sector Employment and Management (Departments and Ministers) Amendment Order 2011 (2011 No 261), Sch. 1 [19], NSW Legislation Website, 2 June 2011.
9. Administrative Arrangements (Administration of Acts—General) Order 2014 (2014 No 232), NSW Legislation Website, 23 April 2014 (allocating Sydney Water Act 1994 to the Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water); Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes—Ministers and Public Service Agencies) Order 2014 (2014 No 233) cl. 9, NSW Legislation Website, 23 April 2014 (relating DTIRIS to that Minister).
10. Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes—Public Service Agencies) Order 2017 (2017 No 79), cl. 13, NSW Legislation Website, 15 March 2017.

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