2 June 1998

The National Water Bill

Water is a scarce and unevenly distributed national resource that belongs to all the people. Because of the discriminatory laws and practices of the past government, all South Africans have not had equal access to water and the use of water resources. The ANC Government has the responsibility to ensure that the inequalities with regard to access of the nation's water resources are remedied.

Objectives of the Bill

The main object of the Bill is to manage the nation's water resources to achieve sustainable use of water for the benefit of all. So it is necessary to provide for the protection of the quality of water resources and for the integrated management of water resources. Powers will be delegated to institutions at regional or local levels to enable everyone to participate in management decisions. The Bill accordingly seeks to provide for the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of the nation's water resources. In so doing it takes into account the need to:

Main Features of the Bill

The Bill will develop strategies to simplify the proper management, classification, and protection of the water resources against pollution, and deal with the effects of pollution.

The Bill lays the basis for regulatory water use. Where the new regulatory system might impact on existing rights, provision is made for the payment of compensation in certain circumstances.

The Bill also deals with measures to finance the provision of services, to support the implementation of policies aimed at protection, conservation and the beneficial use of water.

The Bill provides for the establishment of catchment management agencies to involve local communities in water affairs. It empowers the Minister to appoint advisory committees, to provide for the continued existence of certain advisory committees, to establish bodies to implement international agreements in respect of the management and development of water resources shared with neighbouring countries and to promote regional co-operation in respect of water resources.

It empowers the Minister to establish and operate government waterworks and to deal with existing government waterworks.

It contains provisions aimed at improving the safety of dams and provisions seeking to secure access onto and over property of others for water resource management.

The Bill will establish a Water Tribunal for appeals against decisions of an authority and applications for compensation for deprivation of water use rights. It will also provide mediation

Main Differences between the Apartheid Act and the new Bill

The most significant difference between this Bill and the Apartheid Water Act is that the latter was extremely dictatorial.

Key Political Messages