The use, storage, and/or disposal of biodegradable industrial wastewater, that is wastewater which contains predominantly organic waste from industrial/commercial activities, is classified as a Section 21(e) and/or 21(g) water use activity by the National Water Act 36 of 1998 (NWA). This water use includes the disposal of wastewater through on-site disposal facilities such as direct soakaway systems, french drains, pit latrines, septic- and conservancy tank systems, as well as the reuse of wastewater for beneficial purposes, such as irrigation. This also includes the storage of waste-containing water for the purpose of either re-use or disposal. It is governed by the general authorisations published in Government Notice no. 665 in Government Gazette no. 36820, of 6 September 2013.

These general authorisations rely largely on the end-use of the wastewater-related activity, as well as permissible limits of wastewater volumes and water quality indicators (such as pH, electrical conductivity, faecal coliforms etc.) to determine whether a certain activity requires formal authorisation or not. For example, the reuse of wastewater from packhouses or wineries for beneficial irrigation will have particular quality variable limits that should be adhered to, depending on the volumes of water irrigated per day.

Therefore, when assessing a site’s compliance in terms of wastewater management, it is important for auditors to firstly establish what the end-use of the wastewater is, i.e. is it stored for the purpose of disposal or reuse; or is it used for irrigation purposes? Once the specific end-use has been identified, management should be able to provide the volumes of wastewater destined for the end-use. It should preferably be measured on a daily basis by using a water meter on the incoming line (if it can be motivated that it is equal to the volume of wastewater being disposed of). Depending on the volumes of wastewater destined for the specific end-use, it may also be required to for management to determine the water quality parameters through regular water sampling and analyses in order to establish compliance with the general authorisation. If the specific water use activity falls within the parameters as set out by the general authorisations, further licensing or authorisation is not required. However, the wastewater-related activity (storage/disposal/reuse) should still be registered with the Department of Water and Sanitation or relevant authority in terms of the specific water use activity.