The drought in the Western Cape has highlighted the need for all South Africans to use groundwater responsibly. This article covers some of the notices published recently by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). They can be found in the Government Gazette and should be read in conjunction with the National Water Act of 1998 .
Water Restrictions in the Western Cape
On 12 January 2018, the DWS published a notice entitled: BREEDE- GOURITZ AND BERG -OLIFANTS WATER MANAGEMENT AREAS: LIMITING THE USE OF WATER IN TERMS OF ITEM 6 OF SCHEDULE 3 OF THE NATIONAL WATER ACT OF 1998 FOR URBAN, IRRIGATION AND INDUSTRIAL (INCLUDING MINING) PURPOSES . This notice outlines eight points relating to limiting the taking of water and storing in terms of section 21(a) and 21(b) by all users. Read the notice in the link above.
Registering a Water Use
Since publishing the article To register or not to register…? Permitted water use explained in terms of the National Water Act in the Borehole Water Journal Online Vol 102, the DWS has issued Notice 538 of 2016 entitled Revision of General Authorisation for the taking and storing of water. It is published in the Government Gazette dated 2 September 2016.
Notice 538 states: “The general authorisation for the taking and storing of water contained in Schedule 1 of Notice No. 399, published in Government Gazette No. 26187 on 26 March 2004, and the extension of the general authorisation, published in Notice No. 970 in Government Gazette No. 35909, published on 30 November 2012, are hereby withdrawn on the date when the revised general authorisation will come into effect.”
Water Use Licences for Large Users
SRK Consulting has provided three articles which have been published in the BWJO between March 2016 and November 2017 relating to Water Use Licences. These articles should be read in conjunction with this information from DWS regarding Water Use Licences which was published in the Government Gazette dated 24 March 2017. It is entitled: REGULATIONS REGARDING THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS FOR WATER USE LICENCE APPLICATIONS AND APPEALS
The three articles relating to water use licences follow:
Water use licences are required by a range of water users from mines and industry to property developers and farmers; even public sector organisations like local authorities, provincial authorities and road agencies may need authorisation for projects.
According to Manda Hinsch, partner and principal water and environmental scientists at SRK Consulting, the new regulations are a positive step that aligns the timelines for Water Use Licence Authorisations (WULAs) with those already applying for environmental authorisations as required by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).
“Both processes now promise authorisations within 300 calendar days, if all documents and studies are in order,” said Hinsch. “In the past, receiving water use authorisation could take up to three to five years.”
As many mines grapple with the complexities of implementing and renewing their water use licences (WULs), global consulting engineers and scientists SRK Consulting have prepared a manageable system to simplify this process – complete with a training programme to put all those responsible on the same page.
According to SRK Africa principal scientist Jacky Burke, obtaining and implementing WULs are onerous tasks which many mining operations find overwhelming.
“Our approach is to get back to basics, and to help clients implement a sustainable process with clear designation of roles, backed up by the necessary data-collection and supporting technology,” said Burke.
“It needs to start with everyone understanding the purpose of the WUL and the regular deliverables demanded by the WUL. Then the WUL requirements must be incorporated into the day-to-day operations, so that both management and engineering functions can feed the necessary data into the process on a regular basis.”
SA’s farming sector is still getting to grips with the issue of water use licences after these became a legal requirement for many businesses five years ago, according to leading engineering consultants, SRK Consulting.