South Africa's scarce water resources are under increasing pressure. We will have
to use them efficiently, effectively and wisely if we wish to build a
sustainable future. In order to do this, we need to know how much water is used,
by whom, and where. Once we know this, we will be able to measure it against how
much water is actually available for use. In some areas we will then find that
there is still extra water that can be made available for use. In other areas we
will find that there is already more water being used than the water resources
can provide without considerable damage to the aquatic ecosystems.
The National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) gives the Department of Water Affairs the
tools to gather the information that we need for the optimal management of our
water resources. The registration of water use is one of these tools.
What is Water Use Registration?
Registration comprises the asking and answering of 5 basic
- Who are you?
- Where are you?
- How much water are you using? /how much waste loads are you discharging?
- What are you using it for?
- Where are you using/discharging it?
Registration applies to the 4 authorization types’ namely general authorizations,
license, existing lawful water use and schedule 1(not compulsory). A
registration form will be provided to anyone who must register their water use.
The registration form comprises a number of pages in order to contain all the
supporting information that the Department of Water Affairs requires. This
information will enable us to build up a picture of water use in the various
Who must register their water use?
All water users who are using water for:
- Mining purposes
- Industrial use
- Feedlots, or
- In terms of a General Authorisation.
This covers the use of surface and ground water
Other uses which must be registered,
- Diversion of rivers and streams
- Storage. Any person or body storing water for any purpose (including irrigation,
domestic supply, industrial use, mining, aqua culture, fishing, water sport,
aesthetic value, gardening, landscaping, golfing, etc) from surface runoff,
groundwater or fountain flow in excess of 10 000 cubic meters or where the water
area at full supply level exceeds 1 hectare in total on land owned or occupied
by that person or body and not in possession of a permit or permission.
- Stream flow reduction activities (Afforestation). All afforestation (tree
planting) for commercial purposes, including communal forestry for commercial
gain, that took place prior to 1972, must be registered. Forest owners who have
permits issued under the Forestry Act need not register, as we will send them
completed registration documents, compiled from our records, to amend if
required, to sign and return.
- Local authorities and other bulk suppliers with their own water sources and
- Controlled Activities, such as irrigating with waste, power generation with
water, atmospheric modification or recharging an aquifer.
- Discharges of waste or water containing waste in terms of section 21 of the
National Water Act: This includes the following activities:
- Section 21(e) – engaging in a controlled activity defined as such in Section 37(1), with specific reference to irrigation of any land with waste or water containing waste generated through any industrial activity or by a water work.
- Section 21(f) – discharging waste or water containing waste into a water resource through a pipe, canal or other conduit.
- Section 21(g) – disposing of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact on a water resource.
- Section 21(h) – disposing in any manner of water which contains waste from, or which has been heated in, any industrial or power generation process.
- Section 21(j) – removing, discharging or disposing of water found underground if it is necessary for the efficient continuation of an activity or for the safety of people.
The above waste water uses include a number of non-point sources of discharge:
- Disposal of effluent to land or to a facility (such as a tailings dam, irrigated
effluent or evaporation ponds treatments).
- Disposal of effluent to land or to a facility (such as a landfill, waste rock
dumps, fly ash disposal or solid waste disposal).
- Land use activities such as confined animal facilities or dirty water systems.
Registration is also compulsory to all existing lawful use, which is defined in
the National Water Act as a water use -
(a) which took place at any time during a period of two years immediately before
1st October 1998;
(b) which has been declared an existing lawful water use under Section 33, and,
which was authorized by or under any other law before that date.
Who does NOT need to register their Water Use:
If you receive water from a local authority, a water board, an irrigation board
or another bulk water supplier you do not need to register that use. The
Department will register you if required and send you a certificate or a
semi-completed application to fill in.
The National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998, allows a person to take water for
reasonable domestic use directly from any water resource to which he or she has
lawful access. No license or registration is required for this.
It also allows a person to take water for small gardening (not for commercial
purposes) and the watering of animals (excluding feedlots) on land owned or
occupied by that person, from any water resource which is situated on or forms a
boundary of that land, if the use is not excessive in relation to the capacity
of the water resource and the needs of other users. This means that most users
using groundwater in towns and cities and those users with windmills on their
own properties need not register.
Why should you register your Water Use?
- To manage water resources:
To be able to manage the water resources of South Africa the Department needs to
know where and what water is being used. To manage the water resources
effectively means that the Department requires measurement of all the important
parameters. This will enable the Department to fulfil the mandate of the
National Water Act which strives to promote the optimal beneficial use of water
in the public interest.
- To ensure fair share allocation:
To be able to allocate water, the Department must know both how much water is
available, and how much is already being used.
- To protect the environment:
The National Water Act requires the protection of the aquatic environment. To
achieve this we must ensure that water use is efficient, is well planned, and
that pollution is reduced to a minimum.
- To enable the Department to charge for water:
In terms of the Department's pricing strategy, all users have to pay for water.
Once registered, water users will be charged for the water they use. These
charges will contribute to the proper management of our water resources thus
protecting the future water security of users.
What is the fee for registration?
There is no registration fee. A late registration penalty, which may be waived in
deserving circumstances, will be charged as per Government Notice. License fee
will be charged before a license related water use is registered.
Will I be charged based on the information that I provide in the registration forms?
Yes. The Department has implemented a raw water use pricing strategy for water
use charges in terms of Section 56(1) of the National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998,
which was published in the Government Gazette. The Department is currently
implementing a waste discharge charge system in order to implement the polluter
pays principle for the waste discharge related uses. Waste water users in those
catchments where the charges are to be implemented will be involved in the
Department’s stakeholder consultation process in due course.
Where must you register your water use?
All persons or bodies required to register can contact any of the Regional Office
of the Department of Water Affairs
(http://www.dwa.gov.za/Projects/WARMS/contacts.aspx) How and when do you
register your water use?
- Personal Contact
If the Department of Water Affairs is already aware of your water use, they will
contact you directly. Agricultural unions, farmers unions, NGO's etc will be
asked to mobilize their members or stakeholders to register.
When required to register a specific use in a defined geographic area,
advertisements will be placed in the local media to inform such users to
register. This will be done in a phased manner.
Water use registration forms are available on the website
Contact persons for more information or any enquiries
- Regional Directors
- Area Managers of the nearest offices of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Benefits of Registration
- Registering your water use promptly and correctly will improve your claim to
lawful use established before the promulgation of the Act.
- If you register, you will not have to face prosecution for non-compliance.
- If you do not register you might lose your claim to use water. Ultimately all
significant water use will be licensed. If you are not registered, we will not
be aware of your use and will not be able to licence your water use!
In terms of Section 151 (1) of the National Water Act, Act 36 of 998, no person
may use water otherwise than as permitted under this Act, fail or refuse to give
data or information, or give false or misleading data or information when
required to give information under this Act, fail to register an existing lawful
water use when required by a responsible authority to do so and fail to register
a dam with a safety risk;
- If you trade or transfer your water use to someone else you MUST promptly inform
the Department of Water Affairs of the transaction;
- If you have bought water from someone, you should register your water use;
- If you are asked to register your water use, you should do so within the
Any person who contravenes any
provision of subsection 151(1) is guilty of an offence and liable, on the first
conviction, to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or
to both a fine and such imprisonment and, in the case of a second or subsequent
conviction, to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or to
both a fine and such imprisonment.
TO ENSURE SOME FOR ALL