The process for water use license applications is set to improve as the Department of Water and Sanitation prepares for the introduction of an on-line system.
This is according to SRK Consulting principal environmental scientist Jacky Burke, the leader of SRK’s WULA Group in Johannesburg who hosted a workshop on the topic last month
The workshop which focused on the new Electronic Water Use Licence Application and Authorisation System (EWULAAS), highlighted the value of making the financial and time investment early in a water use license application so that costs can be saved later.
Experts also outlined how applications could benefit from the department’s more streamlined and manageable process – while also considering where challenges were being experienced.
“Water is a complex field and everyone involved is on a steep learning curve with the stringent new licensing system,” explains Burke. “But we are confident that by sharing our experiences in workshops like these – and continuing to receive guidance from department – we can help clients improve compliance and reduce operational and closure liability costs.”
User-friendly and logical
SRK senior environmental scientist Avril Owens emphasises that the web-based EWULAAS system was user-friendly and followed a logical flow process in three key steps: a first, pre-application phase; a second phase in which supporting documents and water use forms are submitted on-line; and a third phase where a technical report and additional specialist information are uploaded for department decision making.
“EWULAAS certainly promises to be a great improvement on the original paper-based system,” says Owens. “Among the advantages is the ability to generate a summary of water uses per farm prior to phase one submission, which provides a check and highlights gaps in the application; also, the submission can be tracked on-line, providing more transparency on its progress.”
A human element
As with any new system, she says, there were going to be teething issues, so SRK maintained close working links with the department to help ensure that the system worked optimally.
“There is no doubt that this is a better way to go – with applicants knowing that all the information is there, that nothing can get lost, and that the process can be tracked,” she says. “There is obviously also a human element to the system and as users we also have to play a constructive role in keeping everyone to the deadlines.”