A water use authorisation will apply should an activity be subject to the water uses listed under Section 21 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998).  Activities that trigger only Section 21 (c) and (i), may require authorisation via a General Authorisation process in terms of GN 44029 (No 509 of 2016), should the environmental significance be deemed low. However, they still need to be registered with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Water uses above the threshold requires an application for an Integrated Water Use Licence from DWS. WUL applications are submitted online via the eWULAA (Electronic Water Use Licence (WUL) Application and Authorisation) portal. This ensures that all information presented is kept safely, it allows users to see the current stage of their application and the party responsible for providing information.

The following activities constitute water uses and require authorization in terms of Section 21 of the NWA:

Water UseExample
Section 21 (a)
Taking water from a water resource.
Abstracting water from a river or borehole for the following purposes:
– domestic use
– irrigation
– watering of livestock
– industrial
– mining
– water bottling, etc.
Section 21 (b)
Storing water.
Raw water containment facilities constructed in-stream and in off-channel dams.
Section 21 (c)
Impeding or diverting the flow of water in a watercourse.
Construction of structures/facilities within surface water resources, e.g. weirs, bridges, pipelines, etc.
Section 21 (d)
Engaging in a stream flow reduction activity.
Plantation of forestry species (Eucalyptus, Pine and Wattle).
Section 21 (e)
Engaging in a controlled activity identified as such in section 37(1) or declared under section 28(1) of the NWA.
Irrigation with water containing waste, artificial recharge of aquifer, modification of atmospheric precipitation and in-stream power generation activities.
Section 21 (f)
Discharging waste or water containing waste into a water resource.
Discharging of water containing waste into a surface water resource, e.g. discharging treated effluent into a river or a wetland.
Section 21 (g)
Disposing of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact on a water resource.
Disposal of effluent into a water containment facility, dust suppression and stockpiles.
Section 21 (h)
Disposing of waste in a manner which contains waster from or which has been heated in any industrial or power generation process.
Discarding of industrial/power generation waste water or water which has been heated.
Section 21 (i)
Altering the bed, banks, courses or characteristics of a watercourse.
Construction of structures/facilities within surface water resources, e.g. weirs, bridges, pipelines, etc. Introduction of unnatural characteristic to the resource.
Section 21 (j)
Removing, discharging or disposing of water found underground if it is necessary of the efficient continuation of an activity or for the safety of the people.
Extraction of water from underground workings for safe continuation of activities.
Section 21 (k)
Using water for recreational purpose.
The use of surface water resources for fishing, boating, etc.

The water use authorisation process is as follows:

SCREENING PROCESSStep 1: Identification of S21 water uses and pre-application meeting with the competent authority (CA)Weeks 1 – 2 (Dependent on availability
SPECIALIST STUDIESStep 2: In accordance with the requirements laid out by the competent authority – specialists will be appointed to undertake the required studiesAllow 6 – 8 weeks for completion
PUBLIC PARTICIPATIONStep 3: Commence with the Public Participation Process (this includes the notification of I&APs, adjacent neighbours, placement of signboards, advertisements, BID)Allocate 21 days for I&APs to register
INTEGRATION AND ASSESSMENTStep 4: Compilation of the water use authorisation report (GA / IWWMP)2 weeks – if information is received timeously
CLIENT / RI&AP REVIEWStep 5: Client to review GA/ IWWMP. I&APs that request to view the report will be afforded the opportunity to provide comments during this time.2 – 3 weeks.
ADMINISTRATION AND SUBMISSIONStep 5: Submission of water use authorisation report (GA / IWWMP) to the CA.Allow 14 days for acknowledgement
ACCEPTANCE/ REJECTION AND APPEALSStep 6: Issuing of the water use authorisation Step 7: Notification of I&APs of decision Step 8: Handling of appealsCA has 300 days to accept/reject the IWWMP. A GA application may take 2 -3 months. Appeals may take up to 3 months.

Should you require more info regarding this service, contact us on 061 568 5510 or

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