Any person or entity that extracts water and distributes the water for sale to customers is considered a water utility subject to regulation in accordance with the URA Act.
URA regulates suppliers of water service providers in Vanuatu who charge a price to an individual for their service. In regulating these utility services, URA is mandated to ensure that the services provided are safe, reliable, and affordable to consumers.
Safety is defined in the Act to mean the risk of;
- serious injury or death to any individual;
- serious environmental pollution; or
- serious damage to critical infrastructure.
Water quality has a direct impact on the safety of consumers since whenever water quality is compromised, it can affect the health of customers which may lead to fatality if the contamination is severe. Safe operations of water network assets are also an aspect of regulation to ensure the safety of utility staff and the public.
The Authority goes about ensuring the safety of the water network and the customers by issuing water safety standards.
If a water supply system safety is compromised, the URA will undertake and Safety Inspection that will inform the content of a Safety Order providing information to customers on the status of their water supply in respect of safety. Furthermore, the Safety Order will prescribe key actions that the utility responsible will undertake to remedy the safety issues identified.
Reliability is defined to mean the regulatory expectation related to the availability of water supply services based on the assessment of a water utility to provide continuous and uninterrupted delivery or supply of water to a customer.
Unavailability of water to utility customers that is frequent in nature and last for periods longer than usual is a matter that the Authority considers important to address and ensures that utilities are concerned to remedy the cause of these issues.
The Authority regulates reliability by issuing Reliability Standards for water.
Affordability is the ability of a customer to be able to meet the water tariff and charges imposed on them by the water utility. Provided that water is a lifeline, the Authority ensures that utility customer’s tariffs are affordable with availability and quality of water supplied considered critical factors in the way the utility service provider is rendered to customers. While the Act provides for the Authority to ensure that the tariff is to be affordable, the Authority ensures that utility services can be sustained by the determined tariff.
Access – This is the ability of a person to access the water network if available. This means a customer obtaining a meter connection or an extension to an operator’s electricity or water network.
The Authority goes about ensuring access to the water network by working closely with utilities and customers to review meter connection and network extension charges and in approving an operator’s capital investment plan which includes an operator’s submission of areas to be given access to water.