Water Management And Planning In A Semi-arid Country: The South African Situation
Free (open access)
J. Visser & S.-A. Verhoog
South Africa is a semi-arid country in which the average rainfall is well below the world average of about 860 mm per year. Stream flow in South African rivers is at a relatively low level for most of the time, a feature that limits the proportion of stream flow that can be relied upon to be available for use. As a result of historical imbalances of the past, the availability of water was to a large extent determined by the prosperity and race of the water user. This resulted in a situation where a small percentage of the population controlled the bulk of the industrial and agricultural water in the country. The National Water Act, promulgated in 1998, saw the beginning of a new era with a new water resource management policy. The following principles are inherent to the new policy: Equitable use of resources, efficient and optimal use of the resource and sustainable use of the resource. A water use licensing system was introduced and enforced by the National Water Act. One of the objectives of this said Act is to redress the imbalances of the past through a more transparent and justifiable process. The paper will attempt to describe the licensing procedure and describe how social, economical and ecological aspects are influencing the decision-making processes in the management of water resources in South Africa. Keywords: arid country, historical imbalances, redress, equitable access, sustainability, resource protection, beneficial use, public interest. 1 Introduction South Africa is largely a semi-arid country with a varied climate. A gradual change in climatic conditions occurs from the wet and sub-humid eastern regions to the arid western coastal belt along the Atlantic Ocean. The average annual
arid country, historical imbalances, redress, equitable access, sustainability, resource protection, beneficial use, public interest.