Rain does not always fall where humans want it to fall, but we work with it to our own advantage.
On a national level, dams such as the Gariep Dam, Vanderkloof Dam, Midmar Dam, Pongolapoort Dam, Vaal Dam or Theewaterskoof Dam have been constructed to collect and store rain water on a large scale. To address the country’s needs, government plans to build new dams or expand existing ones at Mzimvubu River (Eastern Cape), Clanwilliam Dam (Western Cape), the Nwamitwa Dam and Tzaneen Dam (Limpopo), the Hazelmere Dam (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Polihali Dam (in Lesotho to provide water to Gauteng).
On a local or farming level, thousands of smaller dams have been built by the owners of the land, using their tractors, dam scrapers, front-end loaders or other equipment available on the farm. At a later date this water will be used for irrigating crops, drinking water for animals and even as drinking water for human consumption.
The companies listed in this chapter are involved in water storage. Other companies involved in the water sector are listed on the general “Water” page.
Legal requirements before constructing new dams, altering existing dams or repairing dams that failed
All relevant forms and contact details can be downloaded from www.dws.gov.za.
There are three legal requirements that must be met before a person may construct, alter or repair a dam, namely Entitlement to Water Use, Dam Safety Regulations and Environmental Legislation.
Entitlement to water use (Chapter 4 of the National Water Act, 1998)
A Water Use Licence or other appropriate authorisation must be obtained from the Regional Director of the relevant region. An extensive guideline named “Water Use Authorisation Application Process” describes this process in detail. Since the acquisition of a new licence for the storage of water takes a considerable time, it is advisable to apply for such a licence as early as possible. Furthermore, the dam safety licence will not be issued for any dam before the Water Use Licence is approved by the Department.
In the case of dams that failed, existing lawful water use (subject to verification) will normally be acknowledged but it is essential that confirmation is obtained in writing from the Regional Director.
Requirements in terms of dam safety legislation (Chapter 12 of the National Water Act, 1998)
The first step is to apply for classification of the dam on form DW 692E if the wall height exceeds 5,0 m and if the storage capacity exceeds 50 000 m3. The Department will then inform the applicant of the classification of the dam and of further procedures.
- If the dam is classified as a category I dam, apply for a licence to construct on form DW 694E and submit construction drawings. Construction may only commence after the licence to construct has been issued.
- If the dam is classified as a category II or III dam, the services of an approved professional person/engineer (APP) must be obtained. The APP must apply for a licence to construct on behalf of the dam owner (this involves the submission of an application form, design report, engineering drawings and construction specifications). Construction may only commence after the licence to construct has been issued. The APP must also ensure that an adequate quality control programme is in place during the construction period. Before starting with storage of water, the APP must apply for a licence to impound (this involves the submission of an operation and maintenance manual and emergency preparedness plan together with an application form DW 696E). After completion of all construction work, the APP must submit a completion report, completion drawings and a completion certificate stating that the work has been completed according to his/her specifications.
On completion, the dam must be registered on form DW 693E.
There are further requirements in terms of environmental legislation.
Legal requirements for existing dams
All relevant forms and contact details can be downloaded from www.dws.gov.za.
Entitlement to water use
Section 21(b) of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998) defines storage of water as a water use. If more than 10 000 m3 of water is stored or in case a dam has a full supply surface area of more than 1,0 hectare, then that water use must be registered on a form that will be supplied by the Regional Director for this purpose. However, in some Water Management Areas the general authorisation does not allow any dam, irrespective of size, outside the licensing procedure and in those areas all dams must be registered. Please contact the relevant Regional Office for information in this regard.
Requirements in terms of dam safety legislation
All dams with a safety risk (a dam with a wall height exceeding 5,0 m and with the storage capacity exceeding 50 000 m3) must be registered on form DW 693E. The Department must be notified of any changes of particulars (dam owner, address, telephone numbers, person in control, etc.)
The dam must be operated and maintained in a responsible manner. Basically this requires that the owner, or the person appointed by the owner, will visit and inspect the dam on a regular (at least weekly) basis. Maintenance work must be done regularly. In the case of unsafe conditions, emergency procedures and safety measures must be taken and the Department informed about it.
The dam owner must arrange for the execution of a formal dam safety inspection when instructed to do so by the Department (at intervals between 5 and 10 years). In the case of category II and III dams the inspection must be done by an APP. In the case of category I dams it is not prescribed by whom the inspection must be done but it is in the owner’s interest to appoint an experienced person to perform this task. If necessary, the inspection report will indicate what work should be done to upgrade the dam to acceptable safety standards.
National Strategy and government contact
Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS)
A Water Use Licence or other appropriate authorisation must be obtained from the regional offices. Contact details can be found on www.dws.gov.za (“Customer Care” and “Provincial Customer Care Walk-In Centres”).
Additional information regarding national norms and standards on water storage for irrigation purposes can also be obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD):
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)
- Directorate: Water Use and irrigation Development Tel: 012 846 8567, DWUID [at] dalrrd.gov.za
- Directorate: Infrastructure Support Tel: 012 319 846 8502, DINFRAS [at] dalrrd.gov.za
- Engineering Council of South Africa – www.ecsa.co.za
- South African National Committee on Large Dams (SANCOLD) – www.sancold.org.za
- South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE) – http://saiae.co.za
- South African Irrigation Institute – www.sabi.co.za
- South African National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (SANCID) – www.sancid.org.za
Earth moving equipment
- ALS Agri Hire Tel: 018 290 8070 www.alsgroup.co.za
- Buster Tel: 034 393 1188 / 082 575 8250
- Piket Implements Tel: 022 913 2435 www.piket.co.za
- Roadking Manufacturing & Supply Tel: 086 033 3119 www.roadkingsa.co.za
- Rogue Steel Tel: 033 345 0038 www.roguesteel.co.za
Tanks, reservoirs, water proofing and dam linings
- Amatola Tel: 043 732 1927
- Aqua Plastech https://aquaplastech.co.za Dam sealer
- Aquadam Tel: 086 100 1010 www.aquadam.co.za
- Aquanic Environmental Services Tel: 082 553 2116 www.aquanic.co.za
- Aquatan Tel: 011 974 5271 www.aquatan.com
- Atlas Plastics Tel: 018 469 1201 www.atlasplastics.co.za
- Damsak Tel: 083 320 7245 www.damsak.co.za
- Darachem Industries Tel: 011 892 2917 www.darachem.co.za
- DuraFlex Dams & Linings Tel: 082 579 1082 www.duraflexdams.co.za
- Duys Tanks Tel: 031 713 1722 www.duys.co.za
- Envirobent Tel: 011 878 0366/71 www.gwminerals.co.za Dam sealing
- Flexi Linings Tel: 018 290 9344
- Gundle Plastics Group Tel: 011 813 2180 www.gundle.co.za
- Hydrex Tel: 011 034 7400 www.hydrex.co.za
- JoJo Tanks Tel: 013 262 7900 www.jojotanks.co.za
- KRM Plastics Tel: 034 341 1369 www.krmplastics.co.za
- Maxiflex Dams Tel: 018 632 4148 www.maxiflexdams.com
- NW Damme Tel: 082 496 1934 www.nwdamme.co.za
- Pennells Tanks Tel: 015 516 4981 http://pennellstanks.co.za
- Poly Aqua Linings Tel: 0800 203 257 www.polypools.co.za
- Quick Pools Tel: 015 293 2333/4/5
- Rainbow Reservoirs Tel: 082 809 6516 www.rainbowtanks.co.za
- Rainbow Tarps & Linings Tel: 072 562 2658 http://rainbowtarps.co.za
- Rhino Plastics Tel: 041 451 3197 www.rhinogroupsa.co.za
- Rototank Tel: 012 376 1070 www.rototank.co.za
- Staalboer Tel: 082 210 0999 www.staalboer.co.za
- Techno Marketing Tel: 012 332 3810
- Water Infra Tel: 056 212 1941 https://waterinfra.co.za/
Engineering and services
- Agri Drainage Tel: 079 503 0436 www.agridrainage.co.za Optimise water flow on your land.
- EVN Africa Tel: 015 291 2020 / 012 991 5509 www.evn.co.za
- GV Robertson Construction (Pty) Ltd Tel: 083 305 2504 www.gvrobertson.co.za
- MBB Services International Tel: 021 887 1026 www.mbb.co.za
- NWE Engineering Tel: 021 914 2264 www.nweng.co.za
- SW Jacobsz Engineers Tel: 058 481 2342
- Uyapo Engineering Projects Tel: 011 312 6789 http://uyapo.com
NERPO Financial Services’ Infrastructure fund is a credit line that provides emerging farmers with finance for infrastructural developments on their farms. Visit www.nerpo.org.za.
Websites and publications
Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the following publications, available from the ARC in Silverton (these publications are also available in Afrikaans):
- Earth Dams
- Manual for the building of circular reservoirs
- Affordable round dam for farms: a do-it-yourself manual
Information and statistics on water can be found on www.wrc.org.za, website of the Water Research Commission.
Information on the daily and weekly flow into the major dams can be found on www.dws.gov.za.
- Reporter. 2021, December 8. “What To Consider Before Building A Dam”. SA Small holder. Available at https://sasmallholder.co.za/2021/12/08/building-a-dam/
- Reporter. 2019, November 15. “Dam owners urged to stick to the rules”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/dam-owners-urged-stick-rules
- Palm, K. 2019, June 19. “R3.5m fine for farmer after he failed to apply for licence to build dams”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/06/19/r3-5m-fine-for-farmer-after-he-failed-to-apply-for-licence-to-build-dams
- Find the article “Agricultural Dams Provide Drought Insurance” at www.mbb.co.za/facts-news/projects/agricultural-dams-provide-drought-insurance.
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