The Legalities Around Water & Rain Water Harvesting

A Natural Resource that Needs to be Governed

With the rising population rates, it is becoming more important than ever to look after our dwindling natural resources, especially the most vital one, water. Without it, we cannot survive and with the rising costs of water, we need to find an alternative solution. What better way to do this than through rain water harvesting (RWH). This innovative technology has the potential to supply both rural and urban populations with safe water.

Legality of Rain Water Harvesting

The laws and regulations, as well as institutional arrangements surrounding rain water harvesting are a bit murky, to say the least. As rain is a natural resource, how can it be properly regulated within the constraints of the law? By strict application of the law by the National Water Act it is illegal to harvest rain water. However, as the laws regulating water fall within municipal bylaws, more municipalities are adopting the use of RWH, specifically in rural areas where there is a short supply of municipal water. To expand RWH in rural and remote areas that still rely heavily on reservoirs, pools and rivers as primary water sources, the practice should be largely unregulated.

Circumventing the Legalities

RWH infrastructure must be consistent with the National Building Regulations, which falls under the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, which in turn governs building and construction work in South Africa. While all building plans must be approved by a building control officer, there is no requirement to submit water drawings as this falls under a separate act. Compliance is not enforced by the building control officer but by the water inspectors under the water services bylaws. It may not be a bad thing that South Africa has no direct language in the national building codes referring to rain water harvesting, as it has enabled local governments to regulate this more freely. On the other hand, it could have serious compliance challenges since local government does not have the capacity to enforce contraventions of these bylaws. The lack of an umbrella body for the coordination and expansion of rain water harvesting for both the rural and urban population continues to be very difficult due to all the individual “players” in the game.

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Working Together

The benefits of rain water harvesting are many, from supplying rural areas with adequate access to water to its use in households, businesses and industries. Several municipalities now use roof rain water tanks enabling them to harvest water for domestic purposes. By working together, we can ensure the protection of this precious natural resource. To start harvesting your rain water today, contact the Water Pump Group. We supply quality irrigation,pumps and water management products. Visit our website to see what products and services we have on offer.