There are three legal requirements that must be met before a person may construct,
alter or repair a dam, namely dam safety, entitlement to water use and environmental
1. New dams, alterations to existing dams or repair of dams that failed.
The first step is to apply for
classification of the dam on form DW 692E.
The Department will then inform the applicant of the classification of the dam and
of further procedures.
If the dam is classified as a category I dam, apply for a licence to construct on
form DW 694E and submit construction
drawings. (Construction may only commence after the licence to construct has been
If the dam is classified as a category II or III dam, the services of an approved
professional person/engineer (APP) must be obtained. The APP must apply for a licence
to construct on behalf of the dam owner (this involves the submission of an application
form, design report, engineering drawings and construction specifications). (Construction
may only commence after the licence to construct has been issued). The APP must
also ensure that an adequate quality control programme is in place during the construction
period. Before starting with storage of water, the APP must apply for a licence
to impound (this involves the submission of an operation and maintenance manual
and emergency preparedness plan together with an application form DW 696E). After completion of all construction work, the
APP must submit a completion report, completion drawings and a completion certificate
stating that the work has been completed according to his/her specifications.
A Water Use Licence or written authorisation
must be obtained from the Regional Director
of the relevant region.
In the case of dams that failed, existing lawful water use (subject to verification)
will normally be acknowledged but it is essential that confirmation is obtained
in writing from the Regional Director.
It will be required (Government Notice GN 385, GN 386 and GN 387, dated 21 April
2006, promulgated in terms of sections 24, 24D and 24, read with section 44,
of the National Environment Conservation Act, 1998 (Act 107 of 1998) that an environmental
impact assessment (EIA) must be carried out before construction of a new
dam or raising/re-construction of an existing dam will be authorised. Written authorisation
must be obtained from the relevant provincial
department before commencing with the project.
On completion, dams with a safety risk must be registered on form DW 693E.
2. Existing dams.
All dams with a safety risk must be registered on form DW 693E.
The Department must be notified
of any changes of particulars (dam owner, address, telephone numbers, person in
The dam must be operated and maintained in a responsible manner. Basically this
requires that the owner, or the person appointed by the owner, will visit and inspect
the dam on a regular (at least weekly) basis. Maintenance work must be done regularly.
In the case of unsafe conditions, emergency procedures and safety measures must
be taken and the Department informed thereof.
The dam owner must arrange for the execution of a formal dam safety inspection when
instructed to do so by the Department (at intervals between 5 and 10 years). In
the case of category II and III dams the inspection must be done by an APP. In the
case of category I dams it is not prescribed by whom the inspection must be done
but it is in the owner's interest to appoint an experienced person to perform this
task. If necessary, the inspection report will indicate what work should be done
to upgrade the dam to acceptable safety standards.
Section 21(b) of the NWA defines storage of water as a water use. If more than 10
000 m3 or more than 1,0 hectare of water is stored, then that water use must be
registered on a form that will be supplied by the
Regional Director for this purpose. However, in some Water Management Areas
the general authorisation does not allow any dam, irrespective of size, outside
the licensing procedure and in those areas all dams must be registered.
Dam owners are encouraged to check if their dams are registered (link to
List of Registered Dams) and to inform the Dam Safety Office if any information needs to
An Overlay for use in programmes like Google Earth is available (link to Google
Earth Overlay) to display the position of registered dams on a map or on a
satellite image. Not all the positions are accurate and if incorrect, it will be
appreciated if the correct latitude and longitude can be submitted to the Dam
The public living downstream of dams are encouraged to use the List of
Registered Dams and the Overlay to check if dams in their area are registered
and to notify the Regional Office or the Dam Safety Office if they know about
dams with a safety risk that are not registered. A dam with a safety risk is a
dam with a maximum wall height of more than 5m and with a storage capacity of
more than 50 000 m3.