The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has fined a Northern KwaZulu-Natal farmer for illegally using dam water to irrigate his crops.
According to the Department, it recently fined the Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal farmer to the tune of over R1.7 million for illegally abstracting water from Wagendrift Dam use to irrigate his crops without a water use licence.
“The dam, which is under Bushmens 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 Weenen,” explained the DWS. Which further said that a water use licence, in terms of Chapter 4 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998), could not be supplied by the farmer.
Additionally, “Section 21 says a user is required to apply for an authorisation to take water from water resource to use for any commercial activity,” described the department.
The farmer was allegedly 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 illegally pumping water into the farm for the irrigation of crops using centre pivots.
Elaborating further on the case, the Department highlighted that 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 do so. However, the farmer did not stop the activity which necessitated the Department to take legal steps, using the court routes to force compliance.
DWS’ Director of Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, Thandi Mopai, said the farmer, through his legal representation, approached the Department and agreed to pay an admission of guilt administrative fine of R1 770 392.75 within 45 days to avoid criminal charges.
Through the Escourt Magistrate Court, the farmer was issued with an order to pay the fine within the set period, counted from 24 November 2022.
“On 24 November 2022, the Estcourt Magistrate court issued the accused with an order to pay an administrative fine of R 1 770 392.75 to the Department main account which was provided. A mediation agreement was signed after receiving proof of payment and the order made by the magistrate on the same day,” said Mopai.
In addition, the Department noted it would continue in its efforts to root out illegal and unauthorised water use, as it impacted negatively on the livelihood of the people in as far as water provision was concerned.
What are your thoughts on the above-mentioned? Share your views in the comment section below.