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 and Forestry 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 Registration ?
Registration comprises the asking and answering of 4 basic
- Who are you?
- Where are you?
- How much water are you using?
- What are you using it for?
A registration form will be provided to anyone who must
register their water use. The registration form comprises a number of pages in order
to contain all the supporting information that the Department of Water Affairs and
Forestry requires. This information will enable us to build up a picture of water
use in the various catchments.
Who Must Register ?
All water users instructed to register have the statutory
obligation to do so. There are strict penalties, prescribed in the Act, for those
who do not comply. In future, when water users are required to apply for licences,
those who did not register will lower their chances of getting a licence to use
The following water users must
Register their water use:
All water users, who do not receive their water from a service
provider, local authority, water board, irrigation board, government water scheme or
other bulk supplier and who are using water for:
- Mining purposes
- Industrial use
- Feedlots, or
- In terms of a General Authorisation.
This covers the use of surface and ground water
Other uses which must be registered,
- Diversion of rivers and streams
- Discharges of waste or water containing waste
- 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 or where the water
area at full supply level exceeds 1 hectare in total on land owned or occupied by
that person or body and not in possession of a permit or permission.
- 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. Forest owners who have permits
issued under the Forestry Act need not register, as we will send them completed
registration documents, compiled from our records, to amend if required, to sign and
- Local authorities and other bulk suppliers with their own water sources and
- Controlled Activities, such as irrigating with waste, power generation with
water, atmospheric modification or recharging an aquifer.
Existing lawful use:
Registration also applies to all existing lawful use, which is
defined in the National Water Act as a water use -
(a) which took place at any time during a period of two years
immediately before 1st October 1998;
(b) which has been declared an existing lawful water use under
Section 33, and, which was authorised by or under any other law before that date.
Registration also applies to those engaged in stream flow
reduction activities (afforestation) or controlled activities, described above.
If in doubt, contact your nearest Water Affairs and Forestry
Office and ask!
Who does NOT need to Register:
If you receive water from a local authority, a water board, an
irrigation board or another bulk water supplier you do not need to register that
use. The Department will register you if required and send you a certificate or a
semi-completed application to fill in.
The National Water Act allows a person to take water for
reasonable domestic use directly from any water resource to which he or she has
lawful access. No licence or registration is required for this.
It also allows a person to take water for small gardening (not
for commercial purposes) and the watering of animals (excluding feedlots) on land
owned or occupied by that person, from any water resource which is situated on or
forms a boundary of that land, if the use is not excessive in relation to the
capacity of the water resource and the needs of other users. This means that most
users using groundwater in towns and cities and those users with windmills on their
own properties need not register.
Why register ?
- 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.
Where Must You Register ?
All persons or bodies required to register can contact any
Regional Office of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (see addresses and
telephone numbers on back page) for the relevant forms and assistance.
Officials of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry will
be visiting most areas within the year following 1 October 1999 where water use has
to be registered, at a publicised date and venue to assist you in your applications.
How and When Do You Register ?
- Personal Contact
If the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is already aware of your water use,
they will contact you directly. Agricultural unions, farmers unions, NGO's etc will
be asked to mobilise their members or stakeholders to register.
When required to register a specific use in a defined geographic area,
advertisements will be placed in the local media to inform such users to register.
This will be done in a phased manner.
Most of the information regarding the
implementation of the Act is available on the website
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!
Contact persons for more information
or any enquiries
- Regional Directors
- Area Managers of the nearest offices of the Department of Water Affairs and
TO ENSURE SOME FOR ALL