Water Use License

A Water Use License Application process is required when the risk of impact to a water resource is too high and the proposed activity does therefore not comply with the conditions of a General authorisation. The water use license application process is undertaken within a period of 300 days which is initiated with the submission of the initial application documents and concludes when a decision is reached by the Department of Water and Sanitation. 

Contrary to the registration process required for a general authorisation, the water use license application process requires a site visit to the area where the activity occurs or is proposed; a public participation process; detailed specialist assessments of the likely impacts on water resources and assessment of the application by the competent authority.

National Water Act (NWA) (Act 36 of 1998)

The aim of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998) [as amended] (NWA), is the consideration to guarantee that the nation’s water resources are preserved, controlled, used, managed and developed in numerous ways. The purpose of this Act is to outline the fundamental reform of the law, associated with water resources, to repeal specific laws and cater for matters connected therewith. The national water resources strategy delivers the country’s framework for the conservation, protection, management, development, control and use of water resources. It also offers the structure of the management within catchment or regional areas in water management areas.

The NWA includes the vital features of licenses which can be issued, for instance effective places, purposes and periods as well as the attachment of the nature of conditions. No guarantee can be assured for the extension of a license as to the quality or availability of water it covers (NWA, 1998).

Approval must first be required from municipalities in order to use water from a source other than the proposed water service provider in terms of the Water Services Act. External guidelines are developed for an application process by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for generic water use authorisation.

Water uses need to be authorised if they are not allowed in terms of Schedule 1 of the NWA under a tiered authorisation system as a General Authorisation (GA) as published under Section 39 of the NWA or as a WUL, as provided for in terms of Section 21 of the NWA. Section 21 of the NWA recognises different forms of water uses including non-consumptive water uses (such as the disposal of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact the altering of watercourses or a water resource) and consumptive (such as the storing and taking of water) and are subject to a Water Use Licence Application (WULA) process, excluding:

(WULA) process, excluding:

  • an Existing Lawful Use;
  • under General Authorisation as elucidated above; and
  • water use under Schedule 1
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