South Africa: The Department has fined a KwaZulu- Natal farmer in Escourt over R1.7 million for illegally abstracting water from Wagendrift Dam to irrigate his crops without a water use licence.
The owner of Redlands Farm, which is situated upstream of the Wagendrift Dam, Roy Clifford Braithwaite, was illegally taking water from a water resource (Wagendrift Dam) to irrigate crops that are on the Redlands Farm.
The Dam, which is under the Bushmen’s River Government Water Scheme in the Pongola-Mtamvuma Catchment Management Area, provides water for domestic water supply, agriculture (irrigation) and industrial demands for the towns of Estcourt and Weenan.
A water use licence is a document that is issued by the Department in terms of Chapter 4 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) that allows the user to undertake an activity triggered in terms of Section 21 of the Water Act. Section 21 says a user is required to apply for authorisation to take water from water resources to use for any commercial activity.
The farmer was found to have contravened the afore-mentioned section of the regulation after the Department uncovered an abstraction point on the bank of the Dam with no flow meter and that it was illegally pumping water into Redlands Farm for irrigation of crops using centre pivots.
A Notice of Intention and a Directive instructing the farmer to halt the operation of abstracting water was issued after it was found that the farmer did not have permission to use the water.
However, the farmer did not stop the activity, which necessitated the Department to take legal steps, using the court route to force compliance.
The farmer, through his legal representation, approached the Department and has agreed to pay an admission of guilt administrative fine of R 1 770 392.75.