Institutional responsibility

A great variety of institutions have responsibilities in water supply. A basic distinction is between institutions responsible for policy and regulation on the one hand; and institutions in charge of providing services on the other hand. [edit]Policy and regulation Water supply policies and regulation are usually defined by one or several Ministries, in consultation with the legislative branch. In the United States the United States Environmental Protection Agency, whose administrator reports directly to the President, is responsible for water and sanitation policy and standard setting within the executive branch. In other countries responsibility for sector policy is entrusted to a Ministry of Environment (such as in Mexico and Colombia), to a Ministry of Health (such as in Panama, Honduras and Uruguay), a Ministry of Public Works (such as in Ecuador and Haiti), a Ministry of Economy (such as in German states) or a Ministry of Energy (such as in Iran). A few countries, such as Jordan and Bolivia, even have a Ministry of Water. Often several Ministries share responsibilities for water supply. In the European Union, important policy functions have been entrusted to the supranational level. Policy and regulatory functions include the setting of tariff rules and the approval of tariff increases; setting, monitoring and enforcing norms for quality of service and environmental protection; benchmarking the performance of service providers; and reforms in the structure of institutions responsible for service provision. The distinction between policy functions and regulatory functions is not always clear-cut. In some countries they are both entrusted to Ministries, but in others regulatory functions are entrusted to agencies that are separate from Ministries.[citation needed] [edit]Regulatory agencies Dozens of countries around the world have established regulatory agencies for infrastructure services, including often water supply and sanitation, in order to better protect consumers and to improve efficiency. Regulatory agencies can be entrusted with a variety of respo sibilities, including in particular the approval of tariff increases and the management of sector information systems, including benchmarking systems. Sometimes they also have a mandate to settle complaints by consumers that have not been dealt with satisfactorily by service providers. These specialized entities are expected to be more competent and objective in regulating service providers than departments of government Ministries. Regulatory agencies are supposed to be autonomous from the executive branch of government, but in many countries have often not been able to exercise a great degree of autonomy. In the United States regulatory agencies for utilities have existed for almost a century at the level of states, and in Canada at the level of provinces. In both countries they cover several infrastructure sectors. In many US states they are called Public Utility Commissions. For England and Wales, a regulatory agency for water (OFWAT) was created as part of the privatization of the water industry in 1989. In many developing countries, water regulatory agencies were created during the 1990s in parallel with efforts at increasing private sector participation. (for more details on regulatory agencies in Latin America, for example, please see Water and sanitation in Latin America and the regional association of water regulatory agencies ADERASA [3]) Many countries do not have regulatory agencies for water. In these countries service providers are regulated directly by local government, or the national government. This is, for example, the case in the countries of continental Europe, in China and India.[dubious Ц discuss] For more information on utility regulation in the water sector, see the body of knowledge on utility regulation [4] and the World Bank's knowledge base on the same topic at [5] [edit]Service provision Water supply service providers, which are often utilities, differ from each other in terms of their geographical coverage relative to administrative boundaries; their sectoral coverage; their ownership structure; and their governance arrangements.