The powers and duties associated with the water industry in Scotland are primarily contained within five Scottish Acts of Parliament:
- the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 and the Water (Scotland) Act 1980, both substantially amended since their introduction, define the powers and duties in those areas
- the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 set up Scottish Water, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) and the Customer Consultation Panels
- the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 strengthened economic regulation by introducing the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS), improved customer representation and introduced retail competition for non-domestic customers
- the Water Resources (Scotland) Act 2013 makes it a statutory duty for Scottish Ministers to "take such reasonable steps as they consider appropriate for the purpose of ensuring the development of Scotland's water resources"
Ministers currently exercise the powers set out in these five main acts through the following set of regulations and Ministerial orders.
- Water Supply (Water Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2001, which set drinking water standards in Scotland and require Scottish Water to take and analyse samples in a specified manner
- the Provision of Water and Sewerage Services (Reasonable Cost) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (SSI 2015/79), which make provision for determining the points to which Scottish Water must take water supply pipes and public sewers so as to enable connections to be made at reasonable cost
- the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Directions in the Interests of National Security) Order 2002 (SI 2002 No. 1264 (S. 4)), giving Ministers powers to give directions to Scottish Water in the interests of national security of for mitigating the effects of any civil emergency
- the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential and Savings Provisions) Order 2002 (SSI 2002/166), setting out additional provisions relating to transfer of property and liabilities from the previous water authorities to Scottish Water, current charges schemes and codes of practice, billing and collection and charges reduction schemes, and recovery of charges by local authorities from Scottish Water
- the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2003 (SSI 2003/331), making provisions consequential on the setting up of Scottish Water
- the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2004 (Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 1822 (S. 3)), modifying the original Act to replace references to water and sewerage authorities with references to Scottish Water
- the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2005 (Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 3172), providing for a right of reference for Scottish Water requiring WICS to refer its determination of Scottish Water's charges to the Competition Commission
- the Sewerage Nuisance (Code of Practice) (Scotland) Order 2006 (SSI 2006/155)
- the Water Services and Sewerage Services Licences (Scotland) Order 2006 (SSI 2006/464), introducing the non-household retail licensing scheme
- the Water and Sewerage Services to Dwellings (Collection of Unmetered Charges by Local Authority)(Scotland) Order 2014, which came into force on 8 February 2014 and makes provision for a link between the billing and collection of water charges with Council Tax
Customer representation is exercised by Citizens Advice Scotland under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.
All customer complaints that Scottish Water has been unable to resolve are handled by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman under the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002.