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How much water is available in South Africa

Toolkit to help with Water Allocation Reform


South Africa's National Water Act (NWA) [PDF - 239 KB] replaced all previous rights to water use with an entitlement under the new Act. The NWA now only makes provision for one "right" to water, the Reserve. This is the water required for basic human needs and to maintain water ecosystem functioning. Except for the water required for this Reserve and basic human needs use, all other water uses must be authorised by the Department of Water and Sanitation or a Catchment Management Agency(CMA).

These authorisations may be one of the following:

  1. Schedule 1 use - small volumes of water for household use only. No application for a licence needs to be made.
  2. General Authorisations - larger volumes of water may be generally authorised for a specific type of water use or category of water user. These users need to register their use but do not need a licence.
  3. Existing Lawful Use – this allows water use that was lawfully used before the NWA came into effect to continue until it can be converted into a licence using compulsory licensing.
  4. Licensed Water Use – Licences are issued under the NWA, and require approval of an application by the Department of Water and Sanitation.
    >> more about how licences are processed.



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