Water services include the supply and distribution of water, and the collection and treatment of waste water. Water is extracted from surface or groundwater reserves, and then purified and distributed to consumers in the public water supply. After it is used, water is collected in sewerage systems, and then properly treated at waste water treatment plants before being released back into water courses.
Water supply and sewerage policies are designed to guarantee the availability of good quality drinking water, and to ensure that waste water is efficiently collected and suitably treated to acceptable standards. Pricing policies meanwhile aim to ensure that the costs of the water supply and connection to sewerage systems remain reasonable and are fairly spread among users.
Local authorities are generally responsible for the provision, maintenance and improvement of the water supply and sewerage systems. Waterworks must ensure that all premises in their area are connected to an adequate water supply, while property owners and occupiers must look after the distribution of water within their properties. Local authority health inspectors have to ensure that drinking water is of good quality.
Finland’s 13 regional environment centres supervise the water supply and sewerage systems in their respective regions, while also controlling the planning of improvements and allocating financial subsidies for such purposes. The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) conducts applied research related to the water supply and sewerage, and also provides useful information and practical advice, often in the form of leaflets, guides and other publications.