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A new charge for raw water

Many users of raw water are now receiving bills for Water Resource Management from the Department of Water and Sanitation as they implement the raw water Pricing Strategy. 

The main reason behind the new Water Resources Management Charges is to recover the cost of water resource management in each water management area (WMA) in the country. A WMA is an area, which includes one or more catchment areas and there are 19 in South Africa. South Africa is a water scarce country and in eleven water management areas, water demand exceeds available water. In order to ensure an equitable and sustainable water supply to all, the water resources must be carefully managed.

The charge, set out in the Raw Water Pricing Strategy, gazetted in October 1999, is payable by all water users (excluding those defined in the National Water Act as Schedule 1 users), taking quantities of water from the country’s water resources for irrigation, mining, industry, municipal purposes and for commercial afforestation. 

The new charge is payable as from 1 April 2002 and this charge is additional to other charges which many water users have been paying over the years. The other charges are:

  • the consumptive charge which is only applicable to users receiving water from government water schemes, 

  • the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) charge which is only applicable to users dependent on water from the Vaal river system, and

  • the Water Research levy, applicable to users receiving water from government water schemes, water services providers, such as municipalities, and water user associations (WUAs), including similar institutions not as yet transformed into WUAs such as irrigation boards and subterranean water control boards, etc. 

Industrial and municipal users are being billed monthly for their water use, while the irrigation farmers and forest growers will be billed every 6 months. The invoices to the former groups have already been sent out for the first number of months and the first invoices to irrigation farmers were sent in December 2002 and those to forest growers in January 2003. 

The water resource management charge varies from WMA to WMA and also for the type of water use. For the 2002/03 financial year, the charge varies from 0.2 to 3.7 cents per cubic metre.

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