Water use licensing

General Authorisation
What is a General Authorisation?

Certain water uses are regulated by general authorisations as outlined in the Government Gazette from time to time.  It is not necessary to apply for these water uses and they are authorised without a licence, but should still be registered with the DWS.  

Definition  

General authorisations in terms of Section 39 of the NWA are issued by Government Gazette and may cover water uses under Section 21(a), (b), (c), (f) and (i).  These authorisations allow for certain water uses to be performed without a licence, but should be registered with the DWS under certain circumstances.  The general authorisations may also be withdrawn at short notice, therefore a water user who needs an entitlement with a reliable duration should rather apply for a water use licence.

 

The general authorisations for the taking and storing of water have been revised through the Government Gazette No. 40243 of 2 September 2016.  In terms of Section 2.1 thereof, these general authorisations will come into effect 6 months after publication (2 March 2017).  They regulate the taking and storing of water by geographical area, based on the catchment within which a certain property is located. 

The general authorisations for taking and storing are discussed here.  General authorisations also exist for other water uses that are more difficult to understand and will require specialist inputs – this includes general authorisations under Section 21(c) and (i).  A freshwater specialist would be able to advise on the operation of the general authorisations under Section 21(c) and (i), alternatively the BGCMA or DWS could be contacted for advice. 

What do I apply for?
The process

Certain water uses are regulated by general authorisations and do not require a licence.  Any water uses exceeding the volumes listed below, however, should still be registered with the DWS:

  • Taking of surface water: 18 250 m3/a;

  • Taking of groundwater: 3 650 m3/a;

  • Storing of water: 10 000 m3. 

The process for registration is fairly simple.  The same forms that are required to be filled out for a water use licence authorisation should also be filled out to register a general authorisation.  These forms should be submitted with the DWS, and the relevant official will forward it to the registration division (WARMS).  When the WARMS database has been updated, the water user will be provided with an updated registration certificate proving the lawfulness of the water uses. 

No specific permissions are needed, and the process could take a short period of time (even as little as two weeks in isolated cases).  The same forms that are used for a full water application, should also be used to register general authorisations.