Development of the South African Water Resource Classification System (WRCS): a tool towards the sustainable, equitable and efficient use of water resources in a developing country

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Despite the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa still had apartheid legislation on the statute books and the allocation of water was regulated by the 1956 Water Act. Accordingly, post-apartheid South Africa underwent a water sector reform process culminating in the new National Water Act (No. 36) of 1998. One component of the Act is the requirement for a classification system to determine different classes of water resources. The classification system provides a definition of the classes that are to be used and a seven-step procedure to be followed in order to recommend a class. The class outlines those attributes society requires of different water resources. The economic, social and ecological implications of choosing a class are established and communicated to all interested and affected parties during the classification process. This paper outlines the socioeconomic and political context in which the WRCS was developed and outlines the seven-step procedure.

Keywords: Ecological, Economic, Social, South Africa, Transformation, Water Resource Classification System

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