Regulations 2, 4 and 5 of the Water Use and Licence Regulations, 2016 clearly identifies three broad categories of persons for purposes of Regulation and Licencing namely:

(a)   The Exemptions that are subject to Registration only;

(b)   Licensable Water Affecting Activities; and

(c)   The Licensable Water Uses.


Water allocation licences are required for all water withdrawals other than for personal usage not exceeding 250 litres in any 24 hour period or for irrigating not more than 5 hectares per farm family of not less than 5 persons. (Water withdrawals of 250,000 litres or less in 24 hours are granted with the licences to construct the water facilities with which the withdrawals are made). The water allocation licence allows the licensee withdraw water subject to the terms and conditions specified.

   Exemptions That Are Subject To Registration Only

In accordance with Regulation 2 of the Act, the following persons may without a licence:

  • Take water from a water source to which the public has free access for the purpose of reasonable domestic use or for watering domestic livestock;
  • Use water for the purposes of subsistence fishing or for navigation to the extent that such use is not inconsistent with the Act or any other existing law;
  • Use water for personal irrigation schemes covering not more than five (5) hectares;
  • Where a statutory or customary right of occupancy to any land exists, take or use water without charge from the underground water source, or if abutting the bank of any watercourse, from that water course, for reasonable domestic use, watering livestock and for personal irrigation not for commercial purposes; or
  • Store and use runoff water from a roof; and
  • Diversion, construction, drilling, reclamation.

A person may:

  1. Continue with an existing lawful water use, including a customary use; and
  2. Use water generally, in accordance with the Act.

  Licensable Water Affecting Activities

The following prescribed activities affecting the water sources listed in the Fifth Schedule to the Regulation shall be licenced:

(a)    Abstraction of surface water and groundwater;

(b)    Diversion, pumping, storage or use on a commercial scale of water;

(c)    The construction of boreholes;

(d)    Construction and operation of hydraulic structures for rivers, dams, water intake barrages, groynes, bed and bank stabilisation, dykes, polders, wells;

(e)    Public and private irrigation and drainage systems;

(f)     Diversion or impoundment of water for the purposes of mining and discharge of wastewater from mining into any watercourse;

(g)    Discharging waste or water containing waste into a water body through a pipe, canal, sewer, sea outfall or other conduit;

(h)    Disposing in any manner water:

(i)     Containing waste;

(ii)    Which has been heated; and

(iii)   From any industrial or power generation process.

(i)     Undertaking drainage and land reclamation;

(j)     Capital dredging;

(k)    Sand dredging, rock blasting and rock removal from rivers;

(l)     Construction of infrastructure, roads and bridges across rivers and bridges;

(m)  Any work affecting the banks and beds of watercourses;

(n)    Carrying out commercial inland fisheries/aquaculture;

(o)    Transportation of specified substances over the watercourse;

(p)    Activities, which reduce stream flow;

(q)    Using reservoirs for recreational purposes such as tourism, water sports and boat riding purposes; and

(r)    Operating water quality laboratories and water analysis centres.

 Licensable Water Uses

The following water uses shall be licenced in accordance with Regulation 5:

(a)     Agricultural Water Use;

(b)     Commercial Water Use;

(c)      Electric Power Generation Water Use;

(d)     Environmental Water Use;

(e)     Fisheries or Aquaculture Water Use;

(f)      Industrial Water Use;

(g)     Municipal Water Use;

(h)     Recreational Water Use; and

(i)       Water Transportation Use.