Operating Licence

Setting out our responsibilities

Our Operating Licence 2019–2023 (2.7MB), which contains our Customer Contract (6.4MB), began in November 2019. Our Operating Licence is what allows us to supply you with drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and stormwater services.

Our Operating Licence 

In addition to allowing us to supply you with drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and stormwater services, our Operating Licence sets requirements for us to provide other services. These include: 

  • water quality
  • asset performance, including system performance standards
  • the Economic Level of Water Conservation (ELWC)
  • environmental indicators and management
  • customer and consumer rights in the Customer Contract.

As at 31 January 2021, Sydney Water is also responsible for planning water supply augmentation, as directed by the Minister for Water. You can find out more in the Ministerial directive regarding supply augmentation planning for Greater Sydney (404KB).

Our Operating Licence allows us to provide water and wastewater services to Greater Sydney.

Operating Licence review

IPART (the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) reviews our Operating Licence and Customer Contract about every 5 years. The review provides an opportunity for us, stakeholders and customers to comment on whether the licence and contract are working well or could be improved. After considering this feedback, IPART recommends a new version of the licence and contract to the Minister for Water, Property and Housing. 

Throughout the review, we work with customers and the community to ensure we understand your needs and values. In the last review in 2018-19, we adapted some of our plans to align with what customers said they want and are willing to pay for. This included decisions on regulated service standards, proposed pricing structures and specific projects.

A new review is underway now to inform the next version of the Operating Licence which is due to begin on 1 July 2024. You can find more information or make public submissions on our Operating Licence on IPART's website.

Customer Contract

The Operating Licence also contains our Customer Contract (6.4MB). This contract sets out our minimum service standards and outlines your rights and obligations as a customer. We summarise the full contract in Our contract with you (527KB). Once a year, we send a copy of this document to all customers with their bill.

Our Customer Contract includes diagrams that show who's responsible for maintaining authorised connections to our water and wastewater systems. Note that these diagrams are illustrative only: you shouldn't rely on them for any purpose other than to help you understand the provisions in this contract.

Drinking water system (click to enlarge)

Economic Level of Water Conservation (ELWC)

Our new approach to water conservation

At Sydney Water, we continuously drive water efficiency. To help us get value for money on our water conservation investment, we developed a different approach. IPART approved and reviewed the ELWC under our Operating Licence in 2016. We now use the ELWC method to select our water conservation programs. The current value of water under the ELWC is outlined in the table below.

How the ELWC method works

When we decide whether to invest in water conservation projects, we look at the potential costs and benefits for:

  • Sydney Water
  • our customers
  • the environment.

The ELWC responds to dam levels to determine the value of water.

The ELWC method adapts to changes in dam storage levels so we can make sure we're making the right investment at the right time. Each year, we report to the government on how we conserve water in our Water Conservation Report (1.59MB). This report outlines our plan for the next 5 years and how we used the ELWC to target our projects. It also reports on costs and water savings from our program across the year.

Learn more about the ELWC from: 

The current value of water under ELWC

  November 2023 December 2023
Dam level at start of month 88.4% 88.1%
The value of water* $1.91 / KL $1.91 / kL
Economic level of savings 14.8 ML / day 14.1 ML / day

* Note that 'the value of water' is NOT the price. The value reflects the worth of water depending on storage levels. 

Information and services to competitors

We will always:

  • negotiate in good faith with licensees and potential competitors under the Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (WIC Act)
  • publish servicing information
  • establish a code of conduct with WIC Act licensees where required under a WIC Act licence.

Each year, we publish a report on the Provision of information and services to WIC Act licensees and potential competitors.