Legislation: National Water Act

National Water Act
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Legislation Planning Implementations

No. 36 of 1998

The National Government is responsible for the equitable allocation and use of the scarce and unevenly distributed water resources of the nation. The aim of water resource management is to ensure the sustainable use of water through the protection of the quality of water resources for the benefit of all water users. There is a need for the integrated management of all aspects of water resources and the delegation of management functions to a regional or catchment level where appropriate, to enable everyone to participate. Provision is made for sharing of certain water resources with other countries.

Chapter 1: Interpretation and fundamental principles

Purpose of the Act (Section 2)

Entitlement to water use (Section 4)

Chapter 2: Water Management strategies

A national water resource strategy (Sections 5-7) that will provide the framework for the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources for the country as a whole must be established.

In the process of developing a catchment management strategy (Sections 8-11), a catchment management agency must seek co-operation and agreement on water related maters from various stakeholders and interested people.

Chapter 3: Protection of water resources

Protection of water resources is fundamentally related to their use, development, conservation, management and control.

Measures to ensure the comprehensive protection of all water resources, include:

A classification system of all water resources (Section 12)

Classification of water resources and resource quality objectives (Sections 13-15)

The Reserve (sections 16-18)

Pollution prevention (Section 19)

Emergency incidents (Section 20)

Chapter 4: Use of water

The National Government has overall responsibility for and authority over water resource management. This includes the equitable allocation and beneficial use of water in the public interest. Therefore a person can only be entitled to use water if the use is permissible under the Act.

General principles (Sections 21-26)

Considerations, conditions and essential requirements of general authorizations and licences (Sections 27-31)

Existing lawful water uses (Sections 32-35)

Stream flow reduction activities (Section 36)

Controlled activities (Sections 37 and 38

General authorizations (Section 39)

Individual applications for licenses (Sections 40-42)

Compulsory licenses for water use in respect of specific resource (Sections 43-48)

Review and renewal of licences, and amendment and substitution of conditions of licences (Sections 49-52)

Contravention of or failure to comply with authorizations (Sections 53-55)

Chapter 5: Financial provisions (Sections 56-62)

Water charges (pricing strategy) are used as a means of encouraging reduction in waste and provision is made for incentives for effective and efficient water use.

Chapter 6: General powers and duties of Minister and Director-General (Sections 63-76)

Chapter 7: Catchment management agencies (Sections 77-90)

The purpose of establishing the catchment management agency is to delegate water resource management to the regional or catchment level and to involve local communities within the framework of the national water resource strategy.

Chapter 8: Water users associations (Sections 91-98)

Water user associations operate at a restricted localised level, and are in effect co-operative associations of individual water users who wish to undertake water-related activities for their mutual benefit.

Chapter 9: Advisory committees (Sections 99-101)

Chapter 10: International Water Management (Sections 102-108)

Chapter 11: Government waterworks (Sections 109-116)

Before constructing a government waterwork, certain procedural requirements must be satisfied, including, obtaining of an environmental impact assessment. The government waterworks include water storage dams, water transfer schemes and flood attenuation works. This excludes emergency, temporary and insignificant waterworks.

Chapter 12: Safety of dams (Sections 117-123)

Chapter 13: Access to and rights over land (Sections 124-136)

Chapter 14: Monitoring, assessment and information (Sections 137-145)

Chapter 15: Appeals and dispute resolution

Chapter 17: General and transitional provisions

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