Free Review of Water Registration Certificates

Wondering if your water rights are still valid? and if so, until when?

Please note if you receive a water bill from Water Affairs, it is NOT an assurance that your water consumption is legal or valid.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is currently busy with a verification and validation (V&V) process. They are proceeding from one catchment to the next across South Africa. The purpose of the verification and validation is to verify all existing lawful uses, determine legitimate water use authorizations vs water registrations, as well as to determine the legality of new water uses (post-1998). Any discrepancies between use and legal allocation will be highlighted. In light of the afore mentioned Saai has partnered with Milnex- Enviromental Consultants in order to ensure that family farmers are aware of the state of their water registration certificates.


1. Milnex will review registration certificates and advise all farmers for free;

2. Should the certificate state “lawfulness still to be determined”, a verification and validation (V&V) study needs to be done and sent to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The cost for a V&V will be around R5000 and R10 000.

3. Should the V&V study find that water was not used or not used lawfully during the qualifying period (1996 and 1998), a water use licence needs to be applied for. The costs thereof will depend on the water uses required. A quotation can be provided if requested.



Before the National Water Act (NWA) was promulgated in 1998, water use was governed by the Water Act (54 of 1956). As a general rule, water use commencing before 1998 is deemed to be existing lawful use (ELU) in terms of the NWA, if water was lawfully used under old regulations. If you registered your water uses during the qualifying period (1996 – 1998), you received a water registration certificate from DWS. The registration of a water use is not an entitlement to practice such water use and does not mean that the use is being lawfully undertaken, even if you receive a water bill from Water Affairs, it is NOT a guarantee that your water consumption is legal / valid. The registration of uses simply enables the DWS to better understand who is using it, where it is being used, what it is being used for, and how much of it is being used in South Africa. This is purely an administrative process and it does not act as proof of the lawfulness of the registered water use.

Relevant records such as irrigation infrastructure designs, aerial photographs, documentation (seed purchases) etc. need to be in place to prove the water use occurred before 1998 and the existing lawful use must be verified and validated by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

The following agricultural activities are examples of water uses that may require a water use license:

 Water use activity under NWA Potential Relevance
Section 21 (a) Taking of water from water resource. Abstraction from a river, borehole or dam, as required for commercial agriculture.
Section 21 (b) Storage of water. Storage in dams (clean water), as required for commercial agriculture.
Section 21 (c) Impeding or diverting the flow of water in a watercourse. Construction of in-stream dams; construction of bridges and weirs.
Section 21 (d) Engaging in a streamflow reduction activity. Afforestation (commercial timber).
Section 21 (e) Engaging in a controlled activity. Irrigation with wastewater outside the water quality limits outlined in the General Authorisation Government Notice.
Section 21 (g) Disposing of waste in a manner that may detrimentally impact a water resource. Construction of septic tanks and soakaways associated with dairies, staff housing, offices, et cetera.
Section 21 (i) Altering the bed, banks, course or characteristics of a watercourse. Construction of in-stream dams; construction of bridges and weirs.


National Register of Water Use Certificate no. xxx, issued in terms of the regulations requiring that a Water Use be registered, promulgated under Section 26(1)(c) of the National Water Act (act 36 of 1998)


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