Flemish Environment Agency - VMM (Belgium/Flanders)


Regulatory Model

The Flemish Regulation Authority (Water Regulator) is established according to the Decree on water intended for human use of 24 May 2002 a as sub-entity within the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM).
It became operational in 2010. The Regulation Authority has to inventory, assess, advise and report on all matters related to water intended for human use. The regulation unit has to report annually on its activities to the Flemish Parliament, the Social and Economic Council of Flanders and the Environment and Nature Council of Flanders.

Regulated sectors

The drinking water sector = 10 public companies whom cover the entire Flemish region

Main responsibilities

Tariff Setting

Recently (1st of July 2014), the tariff competence for drinking water has been transferred from the federal level (Belgium) to the regional level (Flanders). Flanders got the authority / challenge to elaborate its ‘own’ tariff regulation for drinking water. End of October the competence has been appointed to The Flemish Environment Agency – Water Regulator. This is a process which is for the moment (February 2015) in full development and that is not yet finalized.

Quality of Service

Process benchmarking is imposed by the Water Regulator. The sector have to execute and finance it. The processes to be benchmarked are captured in a five-year plan. The plan is draw up in consultation with the sector and the regulation Authority.
Yearly extensive data-exchange (inventory / indicators) are finalized in a protocol. The Water Regulator is using this data to expand transparency. I.e. yearly the report Watermeter is published. This report provides a complete statistical overview of drinking water production and supply in Flanders from source to tap.

The Regulator

Single-water sector regulator (dedicated to drinking water only)
Year of establishment: 2010
Covers all water companies (100% public)
Number of employees: 3 employees
(research) Budget: 80.000 Euros (2015)

Vlaamse Milieu maatschappij  (Flemish Environment Agency)
Alfons Van de Maelestraat 96
9230 Erembodegem
Phone: +32  72 62 27
Mail: waterregulator@vmm.be   Website: www.vmm.be

Other relevant entities (situation 02/2015)

Federal level (Belgium)

Regional level (Flanders)

Local level


Sector Description

The Flemish (drinking) water sector is 100% in public hands. It consist out of 9 operators of a public network and they cover the entire Flemish area.  There is a big diversity in terms of size and type of organization. The smallest one is a municipally owned company, the largest one is an autonomous Flemish public authority  (= serving almost 50% of the population), the rest (7) are operating as inter-municipal partnerships. In the north of Flanders a Foreign (NL) company is providing water to +/- 1.500 Flemish customers.
In 2013 , 400 million m³ of drinking water was produced for Flanders. 80% of this is actually extracted in Flanders, 20% is purchased (mainly in Wallonia). 52 % of the drinking water is produced from surface water, 48% from groundwater.  All distributed drinking water is standard of very high quality and is available 24h / day and 7 day / week. The drinking water sector is 100% cost recovering.

Legal and institutional framework

The largest operators of a public network is an autonomous Flemish public authority. Its legal basis is reflected in its founding decree: the decree of 28 June 1983 on the establishment of the institution ‘Vlaamse Maatschappij voor Watervoorziening’ The commercial name was changed into ‘de Watergroep’ in 2013.
The majority of the active water companies are operating as inter-municipal partnerships. Inter-municipal partnerships have their legal basis in the decree of July 6, 2001 on the application of inter-municipal cooperation. They are ‘contracting associations', meaning partnerships with management transfer to which the participating municipalities, can delegate the implementation of one or more clearly defined competences relating to one or more functionally coherent policy areas. They are subject to (Flemish) government supervision.
All operators of a public network all members have to meet all the requirements and conditions described in the Decree on water intended for human use of 24 May 2002. The decree is also specifically referring to the ‘general sales conditions for water’. These ‘general sales conditions for water’ are laid down in an act of the Flemish government and define the relationship between the operators of public water distribution network and the consumer whom are using their services.

Market Structure

Currently there are 9 operators, which cover 100% of the market. All of them are subject of regulation and tariff regulation by the Regulation Authority.

Ownership and management of services.

1 municipally owned company, 1 autonomous Flemish public authority, 7 inter-municipal partnerships

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