It is with horror that one hears on a daily basis of the continual decline of our county’s water resources, mainly through pollution and also the total neglect of infrastructure!
In 2000 when the then ‘new’ National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) was implemented/enforced – it was very clearly stated that the government has become the custodian of ALL water resources and infrastructure in South Africa. Through the years since then it has become painfully evident that they are very vocal when it comes to taxation in this regard (e.g. taxes on water, the levies on the Water User Associations etc.), but when it comes to the responsibilities that go with it……..”eish, nobody he is here…..”!
Just before the levies on Water User Associations were enforced on agriculture, I (on behalf of TAU SA and it’s members) compiled an annexure that we submitted to the then DWAF on our ‘membership’ documents that expressly stated that we do NOT agree to the terms, but to keep our members out of jail we have to comply. It was also pointed out on many discussions and written/electronic communications that when we pay for the product (water) we demand that the authorities in charge mainly guarantee the availability of the product, that the product does not decline in quality, and others.
The main idea behind this was to ensure that disputes could be declared in future, as being silent on any matter translates to silent agreement (principle in the Roman-Dutch Law our legislation is based upon). This opened the door to some successful court cases against the then DWAF on behalf of farmers. I just hope that this will be picked up, dusted off and used extensively against the National Department of Water Affairs to enforce they implement their own legislation to protect and conserve our water resources AS IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY!!! Harsh penalties should also be instituted and fully implemented against officials who neglect doing their jobs, municipalities and individuals/companies who transgress – either knowingly or not!!!!