B4.7 Role of the Regulator


Clouds are made from millions of tiny droplets of water, each droplet being so small and light that it can float in the air, being lifted by warm air currents rising from the ground.


Environment Agency and SEPA

In England and Wales, the Environment Agency is the ‘competent authority’ for implementing the Water Framework Directive. The Environment Agency is the principal enforcing authority for water pollution.

The Environment Agency also regulates:

  • Abstractions of water.
  • Discharges on water into main rivers.
  • Works in flood defences.
  • Works in, over, under or near to a main river.
  • Water discharge activities under Environmental Permitting, including those carried on at a Part B installation.
  • Groundwater activities under Environmental Permitting, including those carried on at a Part B installation.


In Scotland, SEPA undertakes the equivalent role to the Environment Agency.


Internal Drainage Boards

Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) are independent bodies responsible for land drainage in areas of special drainage need, which in England, this extends to 1.2 million hectares. There are now around 170 IDBs in England and Wales, concentrated in East Anglia, Yorkshire, Somerset and Lincolnshire.

The IDB will also manage ordinary watercourses in their geographical area of responsibility.


Lead local flood authorities

Responsibility for regulating activities on ordinary watercourses in most areas of England and Wales transferred from the Environment Agency to lead local flood authorities (On 6 April 2012).

Lead local flood authorities are Unitary Authorities where they exist and county councils elsewhere.


Sewerage Undertakers / Water Companies

Sewerage Undertakers, usually the local Water Company, regulated Trade Effluent Discharge Consents.

Water Companies have a responsibility to ensure that all drinking water supplied is fit for human consumption and meets the water quality requirements.


Drinking Water Inspectorate

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) regulates drinking water quality in England and Wales. The principle role is to ensure that the water companies in England and Wales supply water that is safe to drink and meets the standards set in the Water Quality Regulations.



OFWAT is independent of government and the water companies. It is accountable to Parliament and the Welsh Assembly Government

OFWAT limits the prices the water companies can charge. They also work closely with the water quality regulators (Environment Agency and Drinking Water Inspectorate).


Local Authority

Under Environmental Permitting, Part A(2) installations and Part A(2) mobile plant including any waste operations, water discharge activities or groundwater activities carried on as part of the installation or mobile plant.