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.
National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) gives the
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry 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.
is Registration ?
comprises the asking and answering of 4 basic
Who are you?
2. Where are you?
3. How much water are you using?
4. What are you using it for?
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 and Forestry requires. This information
will enable us to build up a picture of water use in
the various catchments.
Must Register ?
water users instructed to register have the statutory
obligation to do so. There are strict penalties,
prescribed in the Act, for those who do not comply. In
future, when water users are required to apply for
licences, those who did not register will lower their
chances of getting a licence to use water.
following water users must Register their water use:
water users, who do not receive their water from a
service provider, local authority, water board,
irrigation board, government water scheme or other
bulk supplier and who are using water for:
• Mining purposes
• Industrial use
• Feedlots, or
• In terms of a General Authorisation.
covers the use of surface and ground water
uses which must be registered, include :
Diversion of rivers and streams
• Discharges of waste or water containing waste
• 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
• 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
• Local authorities and other bulk suppliers with
their own water sources and purification works.
• Controlled Activities, such as irrigating with
waste, power generation with water, atmospheric
modification or recharging an aquifer.
also applies to all existing lawful use, which is
defined in the National Water Act as a water use -
which took place at any time during a period of two
years immediately before 1st October 1998;
which has been declared an existing lawful water use
under Section 33, and, which was authorised by or
under any other law before that date.
also applies to those engaged in stream flow reduction
activities (afforestation) or controlled activities,
in doubt, contact your nearest Water Affairs and
Forestry Office and ask!
does NOT need to Register:
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
National Water Act allows a person to take water for
reasonable domestic use directly from any water
resource to which he or she has lawful access. No
licence or registration is required for this.
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.
To manage water
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
• To ensure fair share
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
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.
Must You Register ?
persons or bodies required to register can contact any
Regional Office of the Department of Water Affairs and
Forestry (see addresses and telephone numbers on back
page) for the relevant forms and assistance.
of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry will
be visiting most areas within the year following 1
October 1999 where water use has to be registered, at
a publicised date and venue to assist you in your
And When Do You Register ?
If the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is
already aware of your water use, they will contact you
directly. Agricultural unions, farmers unions, NGO's
etc will be asked to mobilise 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.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has a
Website (http://www-dwaf.pwv.gov.za), where most of
the information regarding the implementation of the
Act is available.
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!
persons for more information or any enquiries
• Area Managers of the nearest offices of the
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry