KZN farmer fined R1.5m for illegal water use

Friday, January 27, 2023

The Department of Water and Sanitation continues to clamp down on farmers involved in unauthorised and illegal water use and ensure perpetrators are brought to book.

Almost two months after a farmer in Estcourt was fined over R1.7 milllion for illegally abstracting water from Wagendrift Dam to irrigate his crops, another Estcourt farmer has been fined an administrative fee of R1.5 million for conducting illegal and unauthorised water use activities, which is in contravention of the National Water Act.

The owner of a farm under the Pongola to uMzimkhulu Water Management Area was found to have contravened and violated their Water Use License by going beyond the boundary or limit when he constructed an illegal dam in his farm without the required water use authorisation.

The department’s Director for Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, Thandi Mopai, said the unlawful activity was discovered during a compliance monitoring inspection carried out in 2018 and subsequently, a notice of intention to issue a directive in terms of section 53(1) (a) of the National Water Act of 1998 was issued.

Mopai said a directive was later issued, instructing the owner to cease unlawful water uses and demolish the unlawful dam.

“After exhausting all the available avenues, the department opened a criminal case against the farmer with South African Police Services in Estcourt. On 19 January this year, the department entered into a mediation agreement with him to pay an amount of R1.5 million administrative fee for constructing an illegal dam for the use of water in his farming business.

“On 19 January 2023, a mediation agreement between him and the department was reached and as a result an administrative fee of R 1.5 million was paid to the department’s account,” Mopai said.

As part of mediation between the parties, Mopai said it was also agreed that the farmer shall apply for the water use authorisation for illegal dam within 60 days and the department concurred that the application will be subjected to normal processes.

“This is part of the ongoing work by the department as a regulator of the water and sanitation sector, to uproot and eradicate all unauthorised and illegal use of water resources,” Mopai said. –