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The Water Act 2003 (Commencement No. 1 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2004

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Order)

This Order brings into force certain provisions of the Water Act 2003, and makes transitional provision in respect of some of those provisions.

The provisions brought into force on 17th March 2004 relate to grants for drainage works and flood warning systems (section 69). They repeal sections 147 to 149 of the Water Resources Act 1991, and make consequential amendments. The power to make grants for related purposes under section 47 of the Environment Act 1995 is unaffected.

The provisions brought into force on 1st April 2004 relate to abstraction licensing, regulation of the water industry (including aspects of competition in the supply of water) and various miscellaneous matters. The abstraction licensing provisions (the provision in relation to sections 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 25, 27 and 60) generally allow for preparations to be made for the introduction at a later date of reforms to the abstraction licensing system. New powers enabling regulations and orders to be made are therefore brought into force in relation to the variation of the exemptions from licensing that will be introduced by section 6 (in part) and section 9, and registers of protected rights (section 18), as are some substantive changes (sections 10(11), 15, 16, 19, 20, 25, 27 and 60).

Certain provisions relating to the water industry, including the licensing of water suppliers, are also brought into force on 1st April 2004. These enable the recovery from water undertakers of the costs of establishing the new Consumer Council for Water (section 37), and bring the appointment of specialist members of the Competition Commission for references under the Water Industry Act 1991 into line with such appointments in relation to other utilities (section 53). The Secretary of State, National Assembly for Wales and Director General of Water Services are also empowered to establish the new system for licensing water suppliers by means of subordinate legislation (including determining licence conditions), changes to water undertakers' appointment conditions, and guidance (Schedule 4, introduced by section 56).

The remaining provisions brought into force on 1st April 2004 require a Chief Inspector of Drinking Water to be appointed and make related provision (section 57), increase the penalty applying on conviction of the offence of supplying water unfit for human consumption (section 61), make changes in relation to drought orders and permits (sections 64 and 65), provide power to revoke local flood defence schemes (section 66) and allow the composition of regional flood defence committees to be changed (section 68), extend enforcement authorities' powers under the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Reservoirs Act 1975 (sections 71 and 75), make provision in connection with the efficient use and conservation of water (sections 72 and 81 to 83), require water undertakers to bear certain costs of the provision of fire hydrants (section 84), and make new provision in connection with the control of water from coal mines, including in relation to compulsory purchase (section 85 and Schedules 5 and 6).

The provisions brought into force on 28th May 2004 relate to water mains, sewers and their respective connection pipes. They allow a person requisitioning a water main or sewer to pay for it by a single lump sum, and provide for the calculation of that sum (sections 90, 91 and 93), and make provision for agreements to enable the adoption by water undertakers of water mains and service pipes laid by other people (section 92), and for the requisitioning and adoption of lateral drains (sections 95 to 97, and 99).

The provisions brought into force on 1st April 2005 provide for a right of civil action generally to lie against a person who, by abstracting water from inland waters or underground strata, causes loss or damage to another person (section 24). Such liability cannot arise in relation to loss or damage suffered before that date (section 24(3)).

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