In Finland, water services are organised by municipalities. These services provide high-quality tap water and are responsible for treating wastewater in a manner that does not compromise the environment or endanger your health. All properties located within water supply and sewer network have the right to join that network. In addition to a connection fee, you will also need to pay a basic and usage fee for the water you use.
In Finland, municipalities are responsible for organising water services. Each municipality decides on the area covered by its water supply network. This area is called the water services operating area.
The operating area must cover all population centres. However, it often covers a fairly wide area outside the requisite population centres. Water and sewage networks are also constructed in sparsely populated areas, even if these are located far away from any population centres and are not part of the operating area of the municipality’s water supply.
In practice, water services are organised by a water utility. This can be, for example, a company owned by a municipality or a cooperative established by residents. As a rule, all larger water utilities are owned by municipalities. On the other hand, most cooperatives are usually small and often operate in sparsely populated areas.
The water utilities are responsible for agreeing on which utility will operate in a given area. They often follow municipal boundaries, but some municipalities may also have joint water utilities. On the other hand, several water utilities can also operate in the same municipality – each in its own area.
You cannot choose your water utility provider. There can only be one water service provider in each area. You will need to purchase your water services from the utility that services the area your property is located in.
To find the water utility that services your area, use e.g. the Water utility key figures tool on the Vesi.fi website. It describes the water utilities operating in each municipality.
For more information and advice on joining a water supply and sewer network, contact your municipality.
All properties located within a water supply and sewer network have the right to join that network.
Joining the water supply and sewer network is mandatory if the property is located in a population centre and is part of a water supply operating area.
The property must also be connected to the water supply and sewer network if the area features water supply and sewer network and the property cannot arrange its water supply services to the level required by law.
When a property is connected to a water supply and sewer network, the water utility will charge a connection fee. This fee covers all the work required for joining the network as well as, for example, your water meter. The connection fee is fairly high, as the water utility will also use it to cover the extension of its water supply network.
Please note that you will not be charged any new connection fees even if the property changes hands or undergoes a large renovation. You will also not be required to repay your connection fee if your current house is demolished to make way for a new house. In summary, the connection fee must be paid only when a property is connected to the water supply and sewer network for the first time.
After you have joined the network, your water utility will begin invoicing you for the basic fee and usage fee for your water and sewage services. The basic fee covers the maintenance of the necessary facilities and networks. The usage fee is determined by your water consumption. It covers all the costs related to the treatment and transfer of your water and sewage.
Occasionally, you may notice some changes in the quality of your water, such as sediments or a brownish colour. This is usually the result of repair work done in your water supply network. In this case, pressure fluctuations may have removed accumulated substances, such as iron, from the walls of your network’s pipes. Should this occur, you can run your water for a moment to improve its quality.
If you suspect that there is a serious defect in your water network, contact the emergency services of your water utility or the municipal health inspector. The defect could be the result of, for example, a broken pipe that has contaminated the water. The municipality will then issue the necessary instructions and inform its other residents.
For any smaller problems and questions, please visit the website of your water utility. It can provide you with information about possible distribution disruptions and how to deal with specific issues.
The invoicing of your water and wastewater is based on an estimate of how much water you will use. This estimate is based on your water use in previous years. If you are a new customer, the assessment is based on the average amount of water used by similarly sized households. Your billing is balanced once a year when your water meter is checked.
You will be able to anticipate your future water bills on the basis of your first yearly water bill. This will help you prepare for the subsequent year’s water bills.
Moderating how much water you use will help you keep your water bills reasonable. You can find instructions for saving water on the website of your water utility.
If you use water sparingly, the compensation you receive after your meter has been read may be very small. Your bill may even be negative. This means that you have used less water than what was estimated beforehand, but paid for your use according to the estimate. In this case, you will be refunded for the excess money you paid.
If you are unable to pay your water bill within the set date, contact your utility before your bill is set to expire and ask for more payment time.
If your income is insufficient for paying your water bills and other housing costs, you can apply for housing allowance and other possible benefits. You can apply for benefits on a case-by-case basis from either Kela or your municipality.
You can get help in applying for support from e.g. your municipality’s social welfare services. Kela’s website also contains easy-to-understand application instructions in several languages.
The websites and digital services of municipalities and water utilities are often designed with accessibility in mind. This makes using them easier for persons with disabilities. Many of the texts on these websites can be narrated or enlarged.
Municipalities, central hospitals, Kela and several disability organisations also offer various aids that will help you access the necessary services. These include magnification software installed on your computer, speech synthesisers, as well as Braille displays and printers.
You can also receive financial assistance from Kela for paying e.g. your water bills. Kela offers information and instructions comprehensively on its website in plain language and in the sign languages used in Finland.
Today, many water meters are also remotely readable. This helps people with disabilities, as they are not then required to read the water meter themselves and report the necessary readings to their water utility.