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What is a water use licences and what is it for?

According to The National Water Act 36 of 1998, owning land with any type of water resource does not give an automatic right to use the water. All water use is approved by the Department of Water and Sanitation by general authorization or by issuance of a licence to use the water upon application by the person wanting to use the water. A water resource includes, rivers, streams and groundwater.

Domestic use of water in households is exempt from the requirements of the Act.

What does the Act consider to be water use?

There are eleven water use activities identified by the Act, and a water use licence is required for each one. These are,

  • taking water from a water resource, for example a borehole
  • storing water, for example damming
  • impeding or diverting the flow of water in a water course
  • engaging in a stream flow activity reduction activity, for example, planting of pine trees
  • engaging in a controlled activity like irrigation with waste water generated through an industrial activity
  • discharging of waste or water containing waste into a water resource
  • disposing of waste in a manner that may detrimentally impact on a water resource
  • disposing in any manner of water which contains waste which has been heated in any industrial process
  • altering the beds, banks course or characteristics of a watercourse
  • removing, discharging or disposing of water found underground if necessary for the continuance of an activity or for the safety of people
  • using water fro recreational purposes

Who is affected?

This Act impacts homeowners, property developers, farmers and major industries. However it is important to bear in mind that, Being a legal water user has advantages,  for example it would  increase the value of a property should one wish to sell a business that depends on the utilization of water.

How much does it cost?

The cost of applying for a licence can be anything between R 10 000 and R100 000 or more depending on the complexity of the licence specifically the costs of hydrogeologists and other specialists needed to compile a report in support of the application.

What can Van Wyk Van Heerden do?

We offer an in – house service of attorneys and technical specialists to assist in compiling the application as well as submitting the application on behalf of our clients, ensuring that the application is dcompleted correctly from the outset.

Katlego Ngwane

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)