Farming Company Facing Charges For Unauthorised Dam Construction

by Natural Resources

(Main article published by the Department of Water and Sanitation on 28 March 2018)

The Western Cape Department of Water and Sanitation (“DWS”) has taken Tierhoek Boerdery Pty (Ltd) (“the Company”), to the Clanwilliam Regional Court following allegations of unlawful water activities. This comes at a period when the province is battling the worst drought in decades. The drought has been declared a national disaster by the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Drought and Water Scarcity and the Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs.  The charges against the Company include:

  • failure to meet the requirements for issuance of a licence before constructing a dam with safety risks;
  • failure to produce a licence to construct a category 2 dam with safety risks before construction;
  • failure to register and to submit an application to register a dam with safety risks within 120 days to the department after completion of the dam;
  • contravention of Section 49A of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA)107 of 1998 by developing infrastructure for the off-stream storage of water including dams and reservoirs with a combined capacity of 50 000 cubic meters; and
  • contravention of the NEMA, Act 107 of 1998, by developing a dam where the highest part of the dam wall is 5 meters higher.

Before DWS opened a case, consideration was taken of the fact that the National Water Act allows the transgressor to rectify the transgressions by affording such an offender a period of 120 days to rehabilitate the transgression. However, the Company failed to rectify the transgression. DWS opened a criminal case early this year following the first Enforcement and Monitoring Blitz conducted in the West Coast region during Enforcement Month in 2017.  Enforcement Month is celebrated annually by the DWS in November. Over this period, DWS, working with Cape Nature, the Department of Environmental Affairs Development and Planning visited 25 properties in the region to verify water use versus water allocations, after the local Water User Associations and individuals reported suspected unlawful water use activities. The case against the Company has been postponed until 14 August 2018. Level 6B water restrictions remain in place in the Western Cape.