Water use licensing

Validation & Verification

The NWA came into operation on 1 October 1998.  The V&V process is used to determine the water uses to which each property was entitled under the old Act in order to determine each property’s entitlement under the NWA.  Under the old Act, each water user was entitled to take and store water from a river that is riparian to the specific property and to abstract groundwater on a reasonable basis.  If these entitlements were not exercised during the two-year period following the commencement of the NWA, however, the water user would lose its entitlement. 

In order to determine the actual water uses exercised during the qualifying period, detailed aerial photographs taken during 2000 are used.  If it is visible from the aerial photograph that the property did have irrigated development to justify a specific volume of water per hectare per year as determined by the crops planted, and these water uses are still exercised to date, these water uses could be determined existing lawful water uses under the NWA.  If no water uses could be proved this way, water uses could not be determined lawful and the water user would lose its entitlement. 

All agricultural land owners and water users are expected to take part in the Validation and Verification (V&V) process of the DWS.  It was initially intended that this process will be completed shortly after the commencement of the NWA, but the process is still ongoing.  The process takes place by geographical area and is determined by the catchment in which the specific property is situated.  The V&V for the Breede-Gouritz Water Management area has been completed and is being finalised, while the V&V for the Berg-Olifants area is currently under way.  The V&V for a number of other areas in South Africa still needs to take place. 

For more information on the V&V process, take a look here.
The process

As was discussed above, the Validation and Verification (“V&V”) process takes place on a catchment basis.  At the time of writing this Phase 1 report, the V&V for the Berg-Olifants Water Management Area is under way and consulting engineers Aurecon have been subcontracted to perform the process on behalf of the DWS.


As a part of this process, each water user within the Berg-Olifants area is supposed to receive two documents – the first document is a generic guideline on the process, and the second is a set of forms relating to each specific property.  The set of forms needs to be completed and submitted to Aurecon, in order to take part in the V&V and have the applicant’s water uses declared lawful.  If no correspondence has been received by the water user, Aurecon should be contacted to obtain the correspondence and fill out the documentation. 

Non-compliance with the V&V process could lead to a directive in terms of Section 53(1) of the NWA being issued to the water user, in terms of which the water user is demanded to finalise the V&V.  If the water user does not comply with the directive it is within the powers of the DWS to enforce a number of penalties, including the breaking down of illegal structures (incl. dams) and the issuing of fines.