Water Use Licence Audit

In South Africa, the acquisition of Water Use Licences (WULs) is a mandatory requirement for all water-related activities, including mining operations (Burke, 2018). These licenses are not just bureaucratic red tape; they play a pivotal role in safeguarding the nation's precious water resources while simultaneously ensuring that economic benefits from mining activities are not unduly hindered (Burke, 2018).

The significance of compliance audits cannot be overstated in this context. Compliance audits are instrumental in assessing the extent to which mining operations adhere to the stipulations outlined in their WULs (Burke, 2018). By rigorously examining and evaluating compliance, these audits hold mining enterprises accountable and urge them to take ownership of their issued WULs, compelling them to implement measures that guarantee adherence (Burke, 2018). Consequently, these audits serve as a critical instrument in maintaining a delicate balance between resource utilisation and preservation.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that the Water Use Licence system is more than just a bureaucratic framework. It operates as a strategic tool designed to facilitate the equitable redistribution of water resources in water-stressed regions of South Africa (Turton & Meissner, 2017). Under this system, specific water use licenses are issued, granting permission for particular water utilisation activities, as applied for by applicants (Moyo and Moyo, 2021). This approach aims to optimize resource allocation and prevent overexploitation in environmentally sensitive areas.

The need for compliance with WULs extends beyond mining operations; it is equally crucial for activities related to groundwater exploration, drilling, and the assessment of borehole yield and quality (Groundwater and Earth Sciences, 2021). The integrity of the data collected during these activities and the protection of the groundwater resource hinge on strict adherence to the terms of the licenses.

Ensuring compliance with WULs is not a one-time endeavor; it's an ongoing process. To this end, internal audits play an indispensable role. Conducting these internal audits annually is vital for organisations to continually uphold their commitments and obligations as stipulated in their water use licenses.

Moreover, external Water Use License auditing is another pivotal service in this landscape. This service involves detailed assessments conducted annually by independent experts to evaluate an organisation's compliance with the conditions specified in their water licenses. These external audits provide valuable insights and recommendations to help organizations enhance their compliance efforts and overall environmental stewardship.

In summary, Water Use Licence Audits are of importance in South Africa due to their role in ensuring compliance with WULs, which are imperative for protecting the nation's water resources while still allowing economic growth through mining operations. These audits are equally vital for the responsible management of groundwater resources and the maintenance of borehole quality. Through comprehensive auditing services, organisations can continuously improve their compliance with water license conditions, fostering a more sustainable and environmentally responsible approach to resource utilisation.


  1. Burke, J. (2018). The influence of licence conditions on mine water management. Retrieved from https://www.imwa.info/docs/imwa_2018/IMWA2018_Burke_797.pdf
  2. Mdlalose, N. P. S. (2019). Evaluation of the water use licensing regime of the National Water Act in advancing. Retrieved from https://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10413/18837/Mdlalose_Nompumelelo_Portia_Sibusisiwe_2019.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1
  3. Turton, A. R., & Meissner, R. (2017). License to Control: Implications of Introducing Administrative Water Use Rights in South Africa. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317045356_License_to_Control_Implications_of_Introducing_Administrative_Water_Use_Rights_in_South_Africa
  4. Moyo, M., & Moyo, N. (2021). Identifying Key Risks to the Effectiveness of Water Use Authorization Systems through Theory of Change (ToC): The Case of South Africa. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/14/23/3830
  5. Groundwater and Earth Sciences. (2021). How to apply for a South African Water Use License WULA. Retrieved from https://geoss.co.za/getting-the-water-act-together/


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