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 6 basic questions:
- Who are you?
- Where are you? (This relates to where the water user may be contacted i.e.
contact details / postal address & physical address)
- How much water are you using? /how much waste loads are you discharging?
- What are you using it for? (This relates to water use sectors and in the case of
waste ‘where was the waste generated from)
- Where are you using it? (This relates to where the water use is situated (i.e.
taking place): Water management area, Quaternary drainage region, Latitude &
- Where are you obtaining your water or where are you discharging it
Registration forms will be made available on request to anyone who must register
their water use. The registration forms comprise a number of pages (in reference
to Part 1 (water user information) / Part 2(water use information) and various
supplementary forms (property and property information etc.)) in order to
provide all the supporting information that the Department of Water Affairs
requires. This information will enable us to build up a record of water use in
the various catchments.
Registration of water use is compulsory to all the authorization types’ namely
general authorizations, license, and existing lawful water use. It is not
mandatory to register a schedule 1 water use.
For a complete water use registration, a Part 1 form (water user information)/
Part 2 form (water use information) and various supplementary form (property and
property information etc.)) are required.
Who must register their water use?
All water users who are using water for agriculture: aquaculture, agriculture:
irrigation, agriculture: watering livestock, industrial, mining, power
generation, recreation, urban and water supply service must register their water
use. This covers the use of surface and ground water. Other water uses which
must be registered include:
- 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;
- 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.
- Local authorities and other bulk suppliers (water boards);
- Controlled Activities, such as irrigating with waste, power generation,
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
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;
Who should NOT register their water use?
What is the fee for water use registration?
There is no registration fee. License fee, which may be waived in deserving
circumstances, shall be charged as per issued Gazette before a license related
water use is registered;
What is the Fee for late water use registration?
A late registration penalty, which may be waived in deserving circumstances,
shall be charged for
Submitting application for registration of water use not within the predetermined timeframe or
Failing to submit requested outstanding information within the specified timeframe as per issued
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.
When is the period for water use registration?
A legal notice shall be gazetted or advertisements shall be placed in the
local media to inform such users to register; when required to register a
specific water use in a defined geographic area;
When water users trade or transfer their water use to someone else they shall
promptly inform the Department of Water Affairs of the transaction for the
registration of the new water user (after the Department has approved the
Do I receive Registration Certificate?
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 relevant 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
Where do I get water use registration forms?
Water use registration forms are available on the website
(http://www.dwaf.gov.za) or in your local Regional Office of the Department of
Water Affairs (http://www.dwaf.gov.za/Projects/WARMS/contacts.aspx)
Who do I contact more information or any enquiries?
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 specified period.
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 FOR EVER!