Table of Contents

See also the general “Water” and “Rainwater harvesting” chapters


1. Overview

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 in the general “Water” chapter.


2. Legal requirements before constructing new dams, altering existing dams or repairing dams that failed

All relevant forms and contact details can be downloaded from

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 also requirements in terms of environmental legislation.