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This Chapter sets out the fundamental principles of the Act. Sustainability and equity are identified as central guiding principles in the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources. These guiding principles recognise the basic human needs of present and future generations, the need to protect water resources, the need to share some water resources with other countries, the need to promote social and economic development through the use of water and the need to establish suitable institutions in order to achieve the purpose of the Act. National Government, acting through the Minister, is responsible for the achievement of these fundamental principles in accordance with the Constitutional mandate for water reform. Being empowered to act on behalf of the nation, the Minister has the ultimate responsibility to fulfil certain obligations relating to the use, allocation and protection of and access to water resources.
This Chapter also contains definitions explaining the meaning of certain words used in the Act as well as provisions regarding the interpretation of the Act.
1.(1): In this Act, unless the context shows that another meaning is intended -
1.(1)(i): ``aquifer'' means a geological formation which has structures or textures that hold water or permit appreciable water movement through them;
1.(1)(ii): ``borehole'' includes a well, excavation or any artificially constructed or improved underground cavity which can be used for the purpose of -
1.(1)(ii)(a): intercepting, collecting or storing water in or removing water from an aquifer;
1.(1)(ii)(b): observing and collecting data and information on water in an aquifer; or
1.(1)(ii)(c): recharging an aquifer;
1.(1)(iii): ``catchment'', in relation to a watercourse or watercourses or part of a watercourse, means the area from which any rainfall will drain into the watercourse or watercourses or part of a watercourse, through surface flow to a common point or common points;
1.(1)(iv): ``charge'' includes a fee, price or tariff imposed under this Act;
1.(1)(v): ``conservation'' in relation to a water resource means the efficient use and saving of water, achieved through measures such as water saving devices, water-efficient processes, water demand management and water rationing;
1.(1)(vi): ``Department'' means the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry;
1.(1)(vii): ``Director-General'' means the Director-General of the Department;
1.(1)(viii): ``entitlement'' means a right to use water in terms of any provision of this Act or in terms of an instrument issued under this Act;
1.(1)(ix): ``estuary'' means a partially or fully enclosed body of water -
1.(1)(ix)(a): which is open to the sea permanently or periodically; and
1.(1)(ix)(b): within which the sea water can be diluted, to an extent that is measurable, with fresh water drained from land;
1.(1)(x): ``government waterwork'' means a waterwork owned or controlled by the Minister and includes the land on which it is situated;
1.(1)(xi): ``instream habitat'' includes the physical structure of a watercourse and the associated vegetation in relation to the bed of the watercourse;
1.(1)(xii): ``Minister'' means the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry;
1.(1)(xiii): ``organ of state'' has the meaning set out in section 239 of the Constitution;
1.(1)(xiv): ``person'' includes a natural person, a juristic person, an unincorporated body, an association, an organ of state and the Minister;
1.(1)(xv): ``pollution'' means the direct or indirect alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of a water resource so as to make it -
1.(1)(xv)(a): less fit for any beneficial purpose for which it may reasonably be expected to be used; or
1.(1)(xv)(b): harmful or potentially harmful -
1.(1)(xv)(b)(aa): to the welfare, health or safety of human beings;
1.(1)(xv)(b)(bb): to any aquatic or non-aquatic organisms;
1.(1)(xv)(b)(cc): to the resource quality; or
1.(1)(xv)(b)(dd): to property;
1.(1)(xvi): ``prescribe'' means prescribe by regulation;
1.(1)(xvii): ``protection'', in relation to a water resource, means -
1.(1)(xvii)(a): maintenance of the quality of the water resource to the extent that the water resource may be used in an ecologically sustainable way;
1.(1)(xvii)(b): prevention of the degradation of the water resource; and
1.(1)(xvii)(c): the rehabilitation of the water resource;
1.(1)(xviii): ``Reserve'' means the quantity and quality of water required -
1.(1)(xviii)(a): to satisfy basic human needs by securing a basic water supply, as prescribed under the Water Services Act, 1997 (Act No. 108 of 1997), for people who are now or who will, in the reasonably near future, be -
1.(1)(xviii)(a)(i): relying upon;
1.(1)(xviii)(a)(ii): taking water from; or
1.(1)(xviii)(a)(iii): being supplied from, the relevant water resource; and
1.(1)(xviii)(b): to protect aquatic ecosystems in order to secure ecologically sustainable development and use of the relevant water resource;
1.(1)(xix): ``resource quality'' means the quality of all the aspects of a water resource including -
1.(1)(xix)(a): the quantity, pattern, timing, water level and assurance of instream flow;
1.(1)(xix)(b): the water quality, including the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the water;
1.(1)(xix)(c): the character and condition of the instream and riparian habitat; and
1.(1)(xix)(d): the characteristics, condition and distribution of the aquatic biota;
1.(1)(xx): ``responsible authority'', in relation to a specific power or duty in respect of water uses, means -
1.(1)(xx)(a): if that power or duty has been assigned by the Minister to a catchment management agency, that catchment management agency; or
1.(1)(xx)(b): if that power or duty has not been so assigned, the Minister;
1.(1)(xxi): ``riparian habitat'' includes the physical structure and associated vegetation of the areas associated with a watercourse which are commonly characterised by alluvial soils, and which are inundated or flooded to an extent and with a frequency sufficient to support vegetation of species with a composition and physical structure distinct from those of adjacent land areas;
1.(1)(xxii): ``this Act'' includes any regulations made under this Act;
1.(1)(xxiii): ``waste'' includes any solid material or material that is suspended, dissolved or transported in water (including sediment) and which is spilled or deposited on land or into a water resource in such volume, composition or manner as to cause, or to be reasonably likely to cause, the water resource to be polluted;
1.(1)(xxiv): ``watercourse'' means -
1.(1)(xxiv)(a): a river or spring;
1.(1)(xxiv)(b): a natural channel in which water flows regularly or intermittently;
1.(1)(xxiv)(c): a wetland, lake or dam into which, or from which, water flows; and
1.(1)(xxiv)(d): any collection of water which the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, declare to be a watercourse, and a reference to a watercourse includes, where relevant, its bed and banks;
1.(1)(xxv): ``water management area'' is an area established as a management unit in the national water resource strategy within which a catchment management agency will conduct the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources;
1.(1)(xxvi): ``water management institution'' means a catchment management agency, a water user association, a body responsible for international water management or any person who fulfils the functions of a water management institution in terms of this Act;
1.(1)(xxvii): ``water resource'' includes a watercourse, surface water, estuary, or aquifer;
1.(1)(xxviii): ``waterwork'' includes any borehole, structure, earthwork or equipment installed or used for or in connection with water use;
1.(1)(xxix): ``wetland'' means land which is transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface, or the land is periodically covered with shallow water, and which land in normal circumstances supports or would support vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil.
1.(2): In this Act, where a word or expression is given a particular meaning, other parts of speech and grammatical forms of that word or expression have, unless the contrary intention appears from the relevant provisions, corresponding meanings.
1.(3): When interpreting a provision of this Act, any reasonable interpretation which is consistent with the purpose of this Act as stated in section 2, must be preferred over any alternative interpretation which is inconsistent with that purpose.
1.(4): Explanatory notes, printed in bold italics, at the commencement of Chapters and Parts must not be used in the interpretation of any provision of this Act.
1.(5): Any directive or notice given in terms of this Act must be in writing, unless otherwise specified in this Act.
The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the nation's water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in ways which take into account amongst other factors -
2.(a): meeting the basic human needs of present and future generations;
2.(b): promoting equitable access to water;
2.(c): redressing the results of past racial and gender discrimination;
2.(d): promoting the efficient, sustainable and beneficial use of water in the public interest;
2.(e): facilitating social and economic development;
2.(f): providing for growing demand for water use;
2.(g): protecting aquatic and associated ecosystems and their biological diversity;
2.(h): reducing and preventing pollution and degradation of water resources;
2.(i): meeting international obligations;
2.(j): promoting dam safety;
2.(k): managing floods and droughts, and for achieving this purpose, to establish suitable institutions and to ensure that they have appropriate community, racial and gender representation.
3.(1): As the public trustee of the nation's water resources the National Government, acting through the Minister, must ensure that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons and in accordance with its constitutional mandate.
Without limiting subsection (1), the Minister is ultimately responsible to ensure that water is allocated equitably and used beneficially in the public interest, while promoting environmental values.
3.(3): The National Government, acting through the Minister, has the power to regulate the use, flow and control of all water in the Republic.
4.(1): A person may use water in or from a water resource for purposes such as reasonable domestic use, domestic gardening, animal watering, fire fighting and recreational use, as set out in Schedule 1.
4.(2): A person may continue with an existing lawful water use in accordance with section 34.
4.(3): A person may use water in terms of a general authorisation or licence under this Act.
4.(4): Any entitlement granted to a person by or under this Act replaces any right to use water which that person might otherwise have been able to enjoy or enforce under any other law -
4.(4)(a): to take or use water;
4.(4)(b): to obstruct or divert a flow of water;
4.(4)(c): to affect the quality of any water;
4.(4)(d): to receive any particular flow of water;
4.(4)(e): to receive a flow of water of any particular quality; or
4.(4)(f): to construct, operate or maintain any waterwork.
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