Coast KZN


National Water Act

National Water Act, Act No. 36 of 1998 ensures that the South Africa’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled to meet the basic human needs of present and future generations. It ensures equitable access to water while protecting aquatic and associated ecosystems and their biological diversity.

National Water Act

Act No. 36, 1998

To provide for fundamental reform of the law relating to water resources; to repeal certain laws; and to provide for matter connected therewith.

The purpose of the Act is:

"to ensure that the national water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in ways which take into account amongst other factors-

meeting the basic human needs of present and future generations;

promoting equitable access to water

redressing the results of past racial and gender discrimination;

promoting the sufficient, sustainable and beneficial use of water in the public interest;

facilitating social and economic development;

providing for growing demand for water use;

protecting aquatic and associated ecosystems and their biological diversity;

reducing and preventing pollution and degeneration of water resources;

meeting international obligations;

promoting dam safety;

managing floods and droughts;

and for achieving this purpose, to establish sustainable institutions and to ensure that they have appropriate community, racial and gender representation."

Chapters of the National Water Act

Chapter 1: Interpretation and Fundamental Principles

Definitions and interpretation
Purpose of Act
Public trusteeship of nation’s water resources
Entitlement to water use

Chapter 2: Water Management Strategies

National water resource strategy
Catchment management strategies

Chapter 3: Protection of Water Resources

Classification system for water resources
Classification of water resources and resource quality objectives
The Reserve
Pollution prevention
Emergency incidents

Chapter 4: Use of Water

General principles
Considerations, conditions and essential requirements of general authorisations and licences
Existing lawful water uses
Stream flow reduction activities
Controlled activities
General authorisations
Individual applications for licences
Compulsory licences for water use in respect of specific resource
Review and renewal of licences, and amendment and substitution of conditions of licences
Contravention of or failure to comply with authorisations

Chapter 5: Financial Provisions

Water use charges
Financial assistance

Chapter 6: General Powers and Duties of Minister and Director-General

Delegation, directives, expropriation, condonation and additional powers
General provisions regarding regulations
Powers relating to catchment management agencies
Powers of Director-General

Chapter 7: Catchment Management Agencies

Establishment and powers of catchment management agencies
Governing board of catchment management agencies
Operations of catchment management agencies
Intervention, disestablishment or change of water management areas of catchment management agencies

Chapter 8: Water Use Associations

Proposal for establishment of water user association
Procedure for establishment of water user association
Constitution of water user association
Powers of water user association
Directives to water user association
Winding up affairs of disestablished water user association
Transitional provisions for certain existing organisations

Chapter 9: Advisory Committees

Establishment of advisory committees
Regulations regarding advisory committees
Transitional provisions relating to advisory committees

Chapter 10: International Water Management

Establishment of’ bodies to implement international agreements
Governance and functions of bodies
Powers of bodies
Bodies must manage different functions as separate units
Reports on performance of’ functions
Investigation of affairs or financial position of bodies
Transitional provisions relating to existing bodies

Chapter 11: Government Waterworks

Acquisition, construction, alteration, repair, operation and control of government waterworks
Consultation and environmental impact assessment
Financing of government waterworks
Water from government waterworks
Access to and use of government waterworks for recreational purposes
Government waterworks constructed before commencement of Act
Disposal of government waterworks
Regulations regarding government waterworks

Chapter 12: Safety of Dams

Control measures for dam with safety risk
Responsibilities of approved professional persons
Registration of dam with safety risk
Factors to be considered in declaring dam or category of dams with safety risk
Regulations regarding dam safety

Chapter 13: Access to and Rights over Land

Entry and Inspection
Waterworks and personal servitudes

Chapter 14: Monitoring, Assessment and Information

National monitoring systems
National information systems of water resources
Information on floodlines, floods and droughts

Chapter 15: Appeals and Dispute Resolution

Establishment of Water Tribunal
Operation of Water Tribunal
Appeals to Water Tribunal
Appeals from decisions of Water Tribunal

Chapter 16: Offences and Remedies

Enquiry in respect of compensation for harm, loss or damage suffered
Award of damages
Offences in relation to employer and employee relationships
Interdict or other orderly High Court

Chapter 17: General and Transitional Provisions

Powers and Authorisations

Amendments and Authorisations

Amendment of Section 32 of the National Water Act
  • 08 October 1999
  • "To amend the National Water Act, 1998 so as to effect textual improvements; and to change the procedure for the appointment of members of the Water Tribunal; and to provide for matters connected therewith."
Authorisation for Water Use
  • Notice 509 of 2016
  • "This General Authorisation replaces the need for a water user to apply for a licence in terms of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) ( "the Act ") provided that the water use is within the limits and conditions of this General Authorisation."