National Water Bill: hearing of evidence

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

17 March 1998

The South African Agricultural Union (SAAU) representative, Mr C van Veueren, continued with their submission which had started on Monday 16th March. Mr. van Veueren highlighted a number of key or critical issues that the SAAU was not willing to compromise on as well as a number of less critical issues.

These critical issues included:
(1) The wording used concerning permits to use water for a limited duration.
(2) The inquisition of water charges.
(3) The inadequate provision made for tradeability of water licences.
(4) The uncertainties regarding catchment management agencies and governing boards.

Less critical issues included:
(1) The lack of clarity between geographical, catchment and management areas.
Mr. van Veueren questioned the feasibility of having Catchment Management
Agencies (CMA’s) managing catchment areas as well as what a management
area was and its function.
(2) The issues of permissible water use and unexercised water rights.
(3) The issue of compensation which was thought by the SAAU to be subjected to
too much decision not based on hard facts.
(4) The issue of proving loss as a result of the Water Bill.
(5) Charges for water use.
(6) The management of stream flow reduction activities.

Mr. Arendse (ANC) asked Mr. van Veueren how the SAAU could come to the hearing, with the bill in draft form, and take the attitude as to ‘want’ and ‘demand’ ‘without compromise’. At this point Dr. Schoeman (NP) interrupted on a point of order against this "unwarranted attack". Ms. Love overruled Dr. Schoeman and continued with further questions.

Mr. Gininda (ANC) stated that the bill is about equity, that is accessing the majority of the country and on Mr. van Veueren’s concerns regarding permits, permits will always have limitations but must be applied.

Ms. Love (ANC) indicated that she had questions/issues that she wanted to raise. Ms. Love stated that the SAAU did not always indicate any solutions and on the issue of security, was not sure of why the land speaks for itself (as stated by the SAAU in their submission).

Mr van Veueren stated that the points indicated as those of no compromise were issues that did the country no good. On the CMA-governing board issue Mr. van Veueren said that it lacked clarity. Mr. van Veueren agreed on the need for securities, but not in agriculture

Messrs. V. Bath and F. du Plessis presented the Rand Water submission. The main concerns of Rand Water were as follows:
(1) Expropriation without compensation.
(2) The existing lawful resource use.
(3) Water allocation, storage, abstraction and licensing.
(4) The National Water Utility.
(5) Catchment Management Agencies.

Ms Love asked that, putting aside the issue of allocation, what did Rand Water see as the differences in the objectives and way of functioning between the Water Board and the CMA’s. Mr Bath in reply stated that one cannot leave a water board out of a CMA. He further added that the water board might have no say in terms of allocation or discharge but could work together with the CMA in areas such as the rehabilitation of wetlands. With regard to the distribution of water to previously disadvantaged communities, Mr. Bath said that about 70% of the population served by Rand Water could be classified as "previously disadvantaged" and that Rand Water supported local structures. He also noted that Rand Water had spent a considerable amount of money on projects to, for example, reduce water loss, ensuring that families were only charged for water used.

A question was raised regarding Rand Water’s submission on expropriation without compensation. Mr. Bath replied that this did seem to be the case and that Rand Water had taken legal advice.

Mr. Edwards presented the submission from the Forest Industries Association (FIA). He emphasised the FIA’s overriding support for the principles of the new water bill. Their concerns include:

(1) The lack of adequate provision for compensation.
(2) The limited duration of the water licences.
(3) The discriminatory treatment of forestry.
(4) The tradeability of water use rights.
(5) Charges on any water use.
(6) The use of the water charges.
(7) The non-allocation of available water.

Mr. Cronje (ANC) raised the fact that there seemed to be a contradiction between the concept of "use it or lose it" (as pertaining to water rights) and the tradeability of the rights. Mr. Arendse (ANC) questioned clarity of the FIA’s position on compensation and Mrs. Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know about the type of licence.

Mr. Edwards replied that compensation should be relative to areas that encroach on streams and that there was a certain amount of area on either side of a stream that should be kept free anyway. On the type of licence, Mr. Edwards replied that it was the new water licences in terms of the new water bill. Ms Love raised a question about the hydrological cycle and the fact that forestry is an indirect water user.

Ms. Love announced that due to a lack of time the submission from a Mr. Martin from Forestry would be in writing.

Submissions given during the afternoon session will follow shortly


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