Water - Tips and best practice

Although it is possible to institute a water use licence application without the assistance of a specialist consultant, it is a time-consuming and complicated process.  The case officer at BGCMA or DWS is supposed to guide the applicant sufficiently to know what to apply for, which forms to fill out and how to motivate an application.  Even if the assistance of the case officer is used to complete and institute an application, it is necessary to follow up with the DWS on a regular basis and drive the process to completion. 

For applications under Section 21(a), it needs to be determine whether there is enough water available in the source (albeit a river or groundwater).  For this purpose, the inputs of a hydrologist or geo-hydrologist would be necessary to motivate water availability.  For applications under Section 21(b), engineers might be necessary to design the dam and assist with dam safety authorisations (out of scope for the purposes of this report). 

Another point where specialist assistance is desirable would be applications under Sections 21(c) and (i).  These applications need the inputs of a freshwater specialist and even if a certain water use could be lawful through the operation of the general authorisations, the inputs of a specialist would be best to know exactly how the general authorisations operate.  An example of the complicated nature of this, would be the definition of a wetland.  No development is allowed within 500m of the boundary of a wetland, but a freshwater specialist would be the best person to identify wetlands on an applicant’s property (which might not look like a wetland to the uninformed observer). 

It is also a requirement with the DWS that all new water use licence applications should have an element of benefit to previously disadvantaged individuals as outlined in Section 27 of the NWA.  In practice, applications for new water entitlements would require that a proportional benefit in the water use would go to previously disadvantaged individuals - in the form of black ownership or other mechanisms.  There are also minimum BEE compliance levels  - for more information contact the DWS or BGCMA.