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Compulsory licensing is a mechanism created in the National Water Act (NWA) [PDF - 239 KB] to allow DWS to review all the water use in an area to make sure that;

  1. All South Africans have an equal opportunity to apply to use water.
  2. Water is shared out fairly.
  3. Everyone who wants to use water to improve their livelihoods, or for commercial purposes can get a chance to do so.
  4. Water is used in the best and most efficient way possible, to the benefit of the public, the applicants, and the nation as a whole.
  5. Our water resources are protected, and kept clean and healthy.

Compulsory licensing has been initiated in 3 catchments namely Mhlathuze in KwaZulu Natal province, Jan Dissel in Western Cape Province and Tosca in North West province.

Compulsory licensing also converts existing lawful water use into licences, and is done after the extent of existing lawful water use has been determined.  (see also How is Water Use Authorised)

The Department will usually announce compulsory licensing in an area some 6 months to a year before actual calls for licence applications are made. This gives everyone time to prepare for a difficult and demanding process. After the announcement, a Water Allocation Plan will be developed (if a Catchment Management Agency is already in place they may have already developed this plan). This Water Allocation Plan will

  1. Indicate how much water is required for the Reserve, for strategic water uses (e.g. Power Generation), and for International Requirements. (This will indicate how much water we have to allocate to other users.)
  2. Indicate how much water is tied up as existing lawful water use.
  3. Outline good opportunities for emerging users to establish successful and sustainable water using businesses.
  4. Indicate the kind of curtailments that might be needed to existing lawful water users to meet all the new demands for water. 
  5. Outline the allocations that would be made to various water using sectors (irrigation, domestic, mining, industrial, and forestry)

Once the Water Allocation Plan has been developed and discussed with all stakeholders, the Department will start the compulsory licensing process as outlined below.

This means that all water users, including those who have existing lawful water use certificates, must reapply for a licence. This means all water use can be evaluated on an equal basis. The Department will, when developing the proposed allocation schedule, take the “rules” for reallocation into account, and will make allocations based on what is considered to be beneficial use in the nation’s interest.

The compulsory licensing process will also include extensive awareness and empowerment programmes to make sure everyone is aware of the process, and has the means to participate and to make productive use of the water.

All users will have the opportunity to raise objections to the Department. If these fail the Water Tribunal could be approached.

Related Information:



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