South Africa's National Water Act (NWA) replaced all previous rights to water use with an entitlement under the new Act. The NWA now only makes provision for one "right" to water, the Reserve. This is the water required for basic human needs and to maintain water ecosystem functioning. Except for the water required for this Reserve and household water use, all other water uses must be authorised by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry or a Catchment Management Agency.

These authorisations may be one of the following:

  1. Schedule 1 use - small volumes of water for household use only. No application for a licence needs to be made .
  2. General Authorisations - larger volumes of water may be generally authorised for a specific type of water use or category of water user. These users need to register their use but do not need a licence. Click here to find out more about General Authorisations.
  3. Existing Lawful Use – This allows water use that was lawfully used before the NWA came into effect to continue until it can be converted into a licence using compulsory licensing. Click here to find out more about existing lawful use.
  4. Licensed Water Use– Licences are issued under the NWA, and require approval of an application by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry or the Catchment Management Agency. Click here to find out more about how licences are processed.




  > Awareness Material
  > How is water use authorised?   > Extra Reading
  > How are licences processed?   > Case Studies
  > What is compulsory licensing?   > Useful Links
  > What are the "rules" for the reallocation of water?   > Screening Tool
  > What is beneficial use in the public interest?   > How much water is
available in South Africa
  > What are general authorisations?   > FAQ
  > How do we determine the extent of existing lawful water use?    
  > Contact Us