Strategic Asset Management Plans (SAMPs), along with Customer Service Standards, were introduced as mandatory requirements for registered water service providers with the creation of Water Act in 2000. The explanatory notes to the original Bill stated (p. 2):
As service providers begin to commercialise their operations, it is possible that some trade-offs may occur with respect to customer service standards, and the way in which the assets are managed. It is necessary therefore to ensure that there is a regulatory regime in place to ensure that standards of service and long term asset management are not compromised in the pursuit of commercial objectives.
Despite these fears, few WSPs have commercialised their water operations. Regardless, SAMPs can be useful planning documents when they are integrated into the strategic business planning of a Service Provider rather than completed merely to meet a regulatory need. SAMPs are particularly powerful in asset management when they are appropriately linked with an organisation's financial asset management planning system.
SAMPS cover a range of strategic issues relating to levels of service provided to customers and are closely linked to Customer Service Standards. The Regulator's SAMP Guidelines have statutory power and indicate what must be included as well as requirements for ongoing reporting, review and auditing.
Ongoing discussions between qldwater and LGAQ, and the Regulator are seeking streamlining of regulatory planning and reporting requirements including SAMPs. The result is that it is likely in that SAMP requirements will be eased in the future. Regardless a well-prepared and maintained strategic asset management is an essential tool for all Service Providers.
| Relevant Period
||2000 - 2014|
|Exemptions||Some small service providers|
| Penalty Provisions
||Not reviewing, not amending as directed, not reporting annually, not complying with SAMP, not auditing as directed|
|Penalty Units||500 - 1665|
......see also our Online Overview of Qld Legislation, and the Annotated Summary of Legislative Requirements.
According to the Regulator's SAMP Guidelines, a SAMP document must include the following.
A SAMP must be approved by the Regulator which then sets intervals (of not less than a year) for regular reviews of the document (s 74). The Regulator may also specify the requirement for regular Audits (at greater than two-year intervals) which must be completed by an independent Registered Professional Engineer (s 108) and accompanied by a Statutory Declaration from the Service Provider's Executive Officer (s 109).
The Service Provider must also report on the SAMP each financial year, but this may be combined with other annual reporting requirements (s 141) including the Council annual report required under section 108 of the Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010. A SAMP must be endorsed by an RPEQ (s 72).
Various penalties are associated with failure to meet SAMP requirements under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 as follows:
|Not completing a SAMP
||500 Penalty Units||s 73|
|Not amending a SAMP to meet the requirements of the Regulator
||500 Penalty Units||s 75|
|Not regularly reviewing the SAMP||500 Penalty Units
|Not amending SAMP to reflect a notice from the Regulator to make it reflect a Recycled Water Management Plan.
||500 Penalty Units||s 76|
|Not providing an annual report against a SAMP||500 Penalty Units||s 141|
|Not complying with a SAMP
||1665 Penalty Units||s 77|
|Not completing a SAMP Audit (when required by the Regulator)||500 Penalty Units||s 108|
SAMPs are required for each of the Service Provider’s registered services (s 70) although there are exemptions for some small service providers (s 146). Otherwise, SAMPS must be completed by all existing Service Providers and submitted within one year when any new Service Provider is created (s 73, 115).
Small service providers (i.e. those with fewer than 1000 connections) are able to apply to the Regulator to be exempted from all or part of their SAMP requirements (s 146). The Regulator must grant the exemption and notify the provider and Gazette if “satisfied it is not reasonably practicable for the small service provider to comply with one or more of the provisions……because the cost of complying would outweigh the benefits” (s 147). More information is available in the Regulator's Guidelines for Granting Exemptions for Small Service Providers.
The contents of a SAMP overlap broadly with sections of Total Management Plans but more specific (and mandatory) guidance is provided on the required contents of SAMPs. The Regulator's SAMP Guidelines (p. 2) state that if all stated requirements are met a TMP can be submitted to the regulator as partly or wholly meeting the SAMP requirements.
SAMP requirements also overlap with the Asset Management requirements created in 2010 under the Local Government Act and under sections 135-136 of the Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010 . A well prepared SAMP with appropriate financial information may meet many of the aims of Local Government Asset Management Plans for water assets. qldwater is working with the industry, LGAQ and Regulators to rationalise and streamline overlapping reporting requirements. Improving the link between operation asset management and financial asset management plans is a key need for the Queensland industry.
CSS and SAMPs are inter-related. SAMPs require providers to set ‘level of service’ standards and then document and implement a strategy that will ensure those standards are met. A CSS, on the other hand, essentially informs customers who do not have contracts with their service provider of the level of service standards that are detailed in the SAMP. Thus, a CSS is not a separate process for setting level of service standards—it reflects the level of service standards outlined in the SAMP.
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