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All farmers who use water for irrigation purposes should, according to a recent announcement by the Department of Water and Sanitation, have installed water meters and start submitting monthly water meter readings by 17 February 2020.

On 17 January 2020 the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) published the Notice to Install Water Measuring Devices for Water Taken for Irrigation Purposes and to Monitor Compliance with Government Notice No. 131 of 2017 (Government Notice No. 34 of 17 January 2020), which stipulates that all water users who are not members of an irrigation board or water user association are required to install water meters and report on their water usage.

Water users who are members of these boards and associations had to comply with this requirement since 2017. All producers in South Africa who make use of irrigation are therefore now required to install water meters and report their water consumption to their respective water management agencies.

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“The short notice period, especially during harvest time, presents particular challenges that can prevent producers from meeting deadlines,” says Paiter Botha, Vinpro’s manager of compliance and special projects. “Agri SA, of which Vinpro is a member organisation, is currently in talks with the DWS about a possible extension, but we still strongly advise producers to start the process so that they can provide proof that they intend to comply.”

According to Gregory Smith, Agri SA’s natural resource officer: water, the agricultural organisation believes that the 30 day period for the purchase and installation of water meters is unrealistic and will have unnecessary and unforeseen adverse effects. “Although Agri SA promotes the efficiency of water usage, we expect reasonable and responsible implementation. Agri SA has therefore approached the DWS to withdraw or change the notification to allow a longer implementation period (6 months),” he says.

Agri SA is making the DWS specifically aware of the following aspects:

The availability of meters:
There are approximately 1.4 million ha under irrigation in South Africa, of which 52% (approximately 750 000 ha) do not form part of water user associations and irrigation boards. This is a large number of farmers who now have to buy meters.

Costs involved:
Water meter prices can vary greatly and installation, management, calibration and maintenance will cause further recurring costs. These costs are already unforeseen, and to expect producers to comply within 30 days is almost impossible. Sufficient time must be made available to ensure that farmers can budget accordingly.

Potential impact on financing:
Many financial and banking institutions involved in the agricultural sector require their clients to comply with all legal requirements. Farmers’ financing can therefore also be compromised.

“Our advice to farmers is that they use the guidelines (as provided below) and make sure what exactly is expected of them,” says Gregory.

DOWNLOAD AGRI SA INFOGRAM (OR SEE BELOW)
The following is answered therein:
Who should take measures?
Where should the measurement be done?
Why should water consumption be measured?

DOWNLOAD AGRI SA RESOURCES
The following resources are available at the above mentioned link:
REGULATIONS:
GN 131 of 2017 – Water for irrigation purposes must be measured, recorded and reported on.
GN 141 of 2018 – Water User Associations and Irrigation Boards must install meters.
GN 34 of 2020 – All irrigation farmers outside of Water User Associations and Irrigation Boards must install meters.
USER GUIDELINES:
Guideline for water users
Open-channel flow
Pipe-flow

VISIT WWW.WATERMETER.ORG.ZA OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL IRRIGATION BOARD, WATER USER ASSOCIATION, THE DWS REGIONAL OFFICE OR AGRI SA’S WATER DESK AT:
Gregory Smith
Natural Resource Officer: Water
Tel: 012 643 3400
Email: gregory@agrisa.co.za

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