With the implementation of water restrictions in the Western Cape (which is on the verge of a severe drought) and around the country, more and more consumers are seeking an alternative water supply. One of the most talked about options (and controversial) is the drilling of boreholes.

There are multiple reasons why one would be interested in investing in a borehole. Firstly, it can get you “off the grid” in order to save money on your municipal water usage, saving on your water bill.

Secondly, boreholes are widely utilised to keep gardens green and even just add value to properties (however most Purchasers today prefer purchasing a property with an existing borehole than without one as it can prove a costly exercise).

Unfortunately, drilling does not come cheap and can easily cost you up to R1300, 00 per metre in depth being drilled. In Cape Town the average depth is between 20m to 40m. The downside is that the depth of the borehole is only determinable after the drilling officially commences. You will also need to have the correct pump in order to have enough power to pump water at the correct amount of pressure. The positive is that you will without a doubt, recover the monies spend within a few years as your municipal water bill will reduce significantly. To get the best result, it is advisable to make use of the services of a specialist in this field.

One of the most frequently asked questions by consumers: “Must a borehole be licenced or registered?” One has to remember, that it is not the borehole that should be registered or licenced, but the water usage. Under the repealed Water Act 54 of 1956, ground water was regarded as the property of the landowner on which it was found. This is no longer the case as ground water is regarded as a natural resource and therefore in terms of the prevailing National Water Act 36 of 1998, if the water use falls within schedule 1 of the Act (see below) no registration is required.

Schedule 1:

Schedule 1 water use does not have to be registered or licenced!  Schedule 1 includes water use for the purpose of:

  • Reasonable domestic use in a person’s household
  • Gardening (not for commercial purposes)
  • Watering of animals (not for commercial purposes)
  • Storing / using rain water from a roof
  • Recreational activities like filling up a swimming pool and household emergencies such as putting out a fire.

Should the usage not fall within Schedule 1, a Certificate will have to be obtained OR the usage must be registered at the Local Authority.

That being said, according to Councillor Xanthea Limberg (Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlement, Water and Waste Services, and Energy at the City of Cape Town) the City urges that all underground water usages to be registered, especially during the water crisis presently being experienced.

The reason for the issuing of the Certificate is that the City receives numerous complaints from residents with regard to other residents who waste / use water illegally. Upon investigation, it has occasionally been found that some of these residents had boreholes. One has to remember that if you do have a borehole, a sign must be clearly visible at all times; otherwise a fine will be issued on investigation.

The City of Cape Town is requesting that residents, who do make use of underground water usage, still adhere to the water restrictions, thus, extracting only the amount of water which was normally used when utilising Municipal services.

The National Water Act does not clearly differentiate between “reasonable domestic use” and “commercial use”. However, according to the City of Cape Town, should residents use more than the average household usage, it could be regarded as commercial usage. For example the average household uses 30 kilolitres (30,000 litres) of Municipal water per month. However, when underground (borehole) water is used, an average of 50 kilolitres (50,000 litres) per day is pumped which would then no longer be regarded as “reasonable domestic use”.

The registration process and procedures can be found on the City of Cape Town’s website and there are no fees payable. Upon registration, the Local Authority will hand the consumer the correct “borehole-sign” which has to be visibly displayed at the property at all times.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

BOREHOLES – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
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