The National Water Act addresses the application, pricing and debt recovery of water use charges

The National Water Act addresses the application, pricing and debt recovery of water use charges

Various water sector stakeholders in the Northern Cape convened at the Big Hole Protea Hotel in Kimberley recently and were briefed by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) about the importance of registering their water use activities.

According to the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Lower Vaal Catchment Management Agency, Moses Mahunonyane, the DWS has the “legislative mandate through the National Water Act 36 of 1998 and the Water Research Act 34 of 1971, to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected and managed properly while effectively delivering water and sanitation services”.

The National Water Act addresses the application, pricing and debt recovery of water use charges, while the Water Research Act stipulates the rights of the Minister of Water and Sanitation to levy rates and charges which are used for water research done by the South African Water Research Commission.

Some of the challenges faced by the DWS according to Mahunonyane, “are with some of the various licenses issued prior to 2010 which are not registered on the department’s WARMS resulting in the non-billing of some water users”.

Working out water tariffs

DWS as the custodian of over 300 large dams in more than 150 government water schemes throughout the country needs to effectively collect water use charges for the funding and development of state funded schemes, water research and the funding of water management institutions to enable them to effectively manage issues of floods, drought, water quality and the protection of our water resources.

The National Water Act allows the Minister to instruct the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) to implement and fund commercially viable schemes through loans, with the understanding that it will be paid back through cost recovery from economic water users who are billed through water use charges – this is known as the Capital Unit Charge.

A tariff will be set to ensure that the debt is fully paid by the end user and that the debt will not overlap to another project causing financial strain. Tariffs are based on water used from the scheme and purchase commitment from end users.