Water Resources Act
- Commenced on 1 December 2013
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2014.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated in the Fifth Revised Edition of the Laws of Malawi (L.R.O. 1/2018), by the Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice under the authority of the Revision of the Laws Act.]
Part I – Preliminary provisions
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Water Resources Act.
3. Application of the ActThe Minister may, from time to time, by notice published in the Gazette declare part of this Act not to apply to an area defined in the notice for a purpose defined in the action plan.
4. ObjectivesThe objectives of the Act are—
5. Water vested in the StateAll water resources are hereby vested in the State, subject to any rights of a user granted by or under this Act or any other written law.
6. Public ownership of beds and banks of watercourses and lakes and of adjacent land strips
7. Powers and duties of the Minister
Part II – National Water Resources Authority
8. Establishment of the Authority
9. Disclosure of interest
10. Powers and functions of the Authority
11. Committees of the Authority
12. Invited persons
13. Regional officesThe Authority may establish such regional offices in or near any catchment area as the Authority may determine.
14. Staff of the Authority
15. Delegation of powers and functions
16. Water resources investigation
17. Authority’s powers to require records, etc.
18. National monitoring of, and information on, water resources management
19. Sources of funds
20. Application of revenue from permit charges and licence fees
21. Investment powers of the Authority
22. Financial year of the AuthorityThe financial year of the Authority shall be the period commencing on the date of commencement of this Act and ending on the following 30th June and thereafter it shall be a period of twelve months ending on 30th June every year.
23. Annual reports
24. Progress reportsThe Authority shall, at the end of each financial year, produce a progress report on its activities during that period and shall publish the report.
Part III – Catchment management committees
25. Catchment areas
26. Establishment of catchment management committees
27. Procedure for establishment of catchment management committeesThe Authority may, in consultation with the Minister and after receiving a proposal containing the information required in terms of section 26 (1) and any additional information called for or acquired on investigation under section 26 (3) or on its own initiative by notice in the Gazette—
28. Composition of a catchment management committee
29. Functions of catchment management committees
30. Authority to assist catchment management committees
31. Funding and auditing of activities of operational catchment management committees
32. Catchment management strategy
33. Sensitization of users of watercourses on protection and management of watercourses and other bodiesThe catchment management committees shall, with the technical assistance of the Authority, and with funding obtained in accordance with section 31, be under a duty to promote and sensitize all users of watercourses and water bodies within the applicable water management area on the protection and management of the watercourses and water bodies and the conservation and equitable, efficient and sustainable utilization of such watercourses and water bodies in conformity with national legislation and with regional and international water and environmental conventions.
Part IV – National Water Policy and National Water Resources Master Plan
34. National Water Policy
35. National Water Resources Master Plan
36. Action plan to be adhered toAfter approval by the Cabinet, the Minister shall by notice published in the Gazette, issue the National Water Resources Master Plan which shall be binding to all persons and public authorities.
Part V – Water abstraction and use
37. Reservation of water resource
38. Abstraction of water for domestic use, use of groundwater, and rainwater harvesting
39. Abstraction and use of water subject to licence
40. Application for licence
41. Criteria for issuing a licence
42. Contents of the licence
43. Terms and conditions of licenceA licence to abstract and use water shall be issued subject to—
44. Reference of licences to other authorities
45. Exemption of worksSubject to guidelines established by the Minister from time to time, the Authority may exempt—
46. Issue of temporary licence
47. Licence conditional on inspection of worksWhere under section 40 (1) (h) a licence includes an authorization to construct necessary works, the licensee shall not commence operations under the licence unless and until the relevant works have been inspected and cleared by the Authority.
48. Licensee to inform Authority of change of location of water useA licensee shall inform the Authority of any change in the location of use of the water allowed to be abstracted under a licence, including in particular upon the subdivision of the land on which the water is used, or for the benefit of which the water is used.
49. Variation of a licence owing to change in circumstances, etc.
50. Cancellation of a licence
51. Cancellation or variation of a licence for a public purpose
52. Variation of licence following change in flowsWhere it is established that, for any reason beyond the reasonable control of the Authority, the natural flow in a watercourse available to all users has dropped or is likely to drop so that more water is permitted to be diverted, stored, or used than is available in the watercourse, the Authority shall hold a public hearing into the matter and thereafter may amend any or all licences to divert, store, or use water from that watercourse in an equitable and fair manner as the Authority may deem appropriate.
53. Variation of a licence at request of licensee
54. Effects of expiry or cancellation of a licence to abstract and use waterIf a licence to abstract and use water expires and is not renewed, or is cancelled the Minister may—
55. Lease of licence to abstract and use water
56. Succession to a licence to abstract and use waterA licence may be passed on to a named licensee as a successor-in-title at death or transfer, but such passage shall not extend the duration of the licence.
57. Abandonment of permitted or licensed activities
58. Surrender of licence
59. Register of licences
60. Combined licence to abstract and use water and to discharge effluent
61. Duration of a licence to abstract and use waterA licence to abstract and use water shall be granted for a duration of at least five years.
62. Renewal of a licence to abstract and use water
63. Right to transfer saved waterA person who has saved water whether from harvesting the same or otherwise may transfer to another person the water so saved, in return for a price or free of charge:Provided that in times of water scarcity it shall be obligatory for any person to transfer saved water to the persons who need the water, as directed by the Authority under section 65.
64. Easements for works
65. Emergency powers in case of shortage of water
Part VI – Control and protection of groundwater
66. Groundwater conservation areas
67. Issuing of licence not guarantee to supply of water
68. Permit to drill a borehole or to engage in borehole drilling programme for groundwater exploration
69. Submission of recordsA person constructing or drilling a borehole, if required to keep records under this Part, shall, within one month of the cessation of the construction, send to the Authority—
70. Tests on neighbouring boreholes
71. Contractor deemed to be constructorWhere any contractor constructs or drills a borehole on land belonging to or occupied by any other person, the contractor shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be the person constructing or drilling the borehole, and he shall be jointly and severally liable with the owner of the land to the discharge of the obligations under section 69.
72. Records may be required to be treated as confidential
73. Waste of groundwater
74. Contamination and pollution of groundwaterEvery person abstracting groundwater by means of a borehole shall, in order to prevent contamination or pollution of the water—
75. Authority may order special measures to safeguard groundwater resourcesIf—
76. Artesian boreholes to be casedEvery artesian borehole and every sub-artesian borehole shall be efficiently cased, capped or furnished with such appliances as will readily and effectively arrest and prevent the flow therefrom over the surface of the ground or wasting from the borehole through the strata through which it passes.
77. Defective boreholes
78. Interference with defective borehole, etc.Any person who re-cases or removes the plugs or seals from a defective borehole, or deposits or causes or knowingly permits the deposit of, any dirt, rubbish or other material in any such borehole, except with the written permission of the Authority, commits an offence.
79. Application to carry out work on a defective borehole
80. Instructions to deal with defective boreholeThe Authority, after consideration of any application under section 79, may call for additional data, and may make such investigation as it considers necessary, and if the borehole is found to contain salt water, shall by order give instructions to the applicant, specifying—
81. Authority may inspect boreholeThe Authority may on its own initiative, or upon information or complaint from any source, make an examination of any borehole suspected of containing salt water, and may by order issue instructions for curing any defects in the borehole.
82. Sworn statements to be submitted
83. Additional work on defective borehole
84. Licensing of borehole drillers and constructors
Part VII – Protected areas and controlled activities
85. Protected areas
86. Controlled areas in relation to droughtThe Minister may, in relation to any water source, where the situation so requires due to shortage or anticipated shortage of water, by notice published in the Gazette and in such other manner appropriate for such area as the Minister may see fit, on the advice of the Authority, declare any part of Malawi to be a controlled area and establish a comprehensive and integrated plan for managing land, water and other natural resources within that area.
87. Controlled activities
Part VIII – Prevention and control of water pollution
88. Prohibition of pollution
89. Pollution of water resources from an activity or process
90. Declaration of prohibited substances by the AuthorityThe Authority shall prescribe a list of substances which shall not be discharged under any circumstances under this Part.
91. Standards of effluent qualityThe Minister shall, after consultation with competent authorities, prescribe standards of effluent quality with which effluent discharges shall comply.
92. Application for effluent discharge permit
93. Contents of the permitA permit to discharge effluent shall specify—
94. Terms and conditions of a discharge permitA permit to discharge effluent shall be issued subject to—
95. Reference of permits to other authorities
96. Duration of permit to discharge effluent
97. Renewal of permit to discharge effluent
98. Review of permit to discharge effluent
99. Transfer of permit to discharge effluent
100. Succession to permit to discharge effluentA permit to discharge effluent may pass to the named person as a successor-in-title at death or transfer, but that passage of the permit to a successor-in-title does not extend the duration of the permit.
101. Suspension and cancellation of permit to discharge effluent
102. Effects of expiry or cancellation of permit to discharge effluentIf a permit to discharge effluent expires and is not renewed, or is cancelled prior to its expiry, the Authority may—
103. Pollution of water resources from spillage
Part IX – Government waterworks
104. Powers of Authority to undertake works
105. State schemes and community projects
106. Precedence of schemes and projects
107. Construction of works for state schemes
108. Community projects
109. Contribution towards schemes and projectsAny person who, in the opinion of the Minister, will benefit from the scheme or project shall, if the Minister so determines, contribute towards the cost of the state scheme or community project in cash or in kind.
Part X – Safety of dams and flood management
111. Blockage of watercourses
112. Control measures for dams with safety risk
113. Responsibilities of approved professional persons
114. Registration of dams with safety risk
115. Factors to be considered in declaring dams with safety riskIn declaring a category of dams or a dam to be a category of dams or a dam with a safety risk, the Authority shall consider—
117. Regulations regarding dam safety and prevention of flood risk
118. Measures for flood mitigation and controlFor the purpose of preventing or minimizing the risk of flooding and flood damage, the Authority may do any of the following—
Part XI – Water charges and financial provisions
120. Collection and use of water fees and charges
121. Water Resources Trust Fund
Part XII – Water Tribunal
122. Establishment of Water Tribunal
123. Composition of the Water Tribunal
124. Vacancy in the office of a member of the Water Tribunal
125. Support staff and funds of the Water Tribunal
126. Indemnity of the Tribunal and its membersThe Water Tribunal and the members of the Water Tribunal shall not be liable for an act or omission committed in good faith in the course of performing their functions under this Act.
127. Jurisdiction of the Water Tribunal
128. Time for lodging appealNo appeal shall be entertained by the Water Tribunal unless it is lodged, where no period is so prescribed, within thirty days after the date on which written notice was served on the appellant notifying him of the decision or order against which he wishes to appeal:Provided that the Water Tribunal may in any case, for good cause shown, admit an appeal after the time limited for lodgment of an appeal has expired.
129. Determination of appeals and disputes
130. Rules and procedures of the Water TribunalThe Water Tribunal shall determine its own procedures and rules for or with respect to the lodgment, hearing and disposal of appeals and other matters before it.
Part XIII – Associations of water users
131. Establishment and purposes of associations of water users
132. Approval and registration of associations of water users
133. Registration of associations of water users, compulsory membership implied
134. Register of associations of water users
135. Power of Authority to give directionsIn any case where the Authority is satisfied that an association does not perform its functions satisfactorily, it may give directions to the association relating to the performance of the functions of the association. Such directions may refer to—
136. Disestablishment of associations of water users
137. Winding-up of affairs of associations of water users
Part XIV – Miscellaneous provisions
138. Entry by Authority for monitoring of water resources
139. Obligations on entry on land
140. Inspection of land in relation to water use
141. Establishment of bodies to implement international agreements
142. General appeals
143. General offence and penaltyA person who neglects or fails to comply with any order or requirement given or imposed on him by or under this Act commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine of K1,000,000 and to four years imprisonment.
144. Specific offences
145. Miscellaneous offences
146. Proceedings for offencesWithout prejudice to the rights of any person to bring proceedings in respect of an offence, the Minister or the Authority may, subject to section 148, institute and maintain criminal proceedings in any court against any person accused of an offence under this Act or under any rules or regulations made under this Act.
147. Penalties for offences
148. Administrative penalties
149. Offences by bodies corporate relating to state of mind
150. Offences by bodies corporate relating to liability of directorsWhere an offence against a provision of this Act or regulations made hereunder is committed by a body corporate, each director of the body corporate also shall be guilty of the offence and on conviction shall be liable to the same penalty unless it is established that he took reasonable precaution and exercise due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.
151. Penalties for offences by bodies corporateWhere a body corporate is convicted of an offence under this Act, the court may, if the court thinks fit, impose a pecuniary penalty not exceeding an amount equal to five times the amount of the maximum pecuniary penalty that could be imposed by the court on an individual convicted of the same offence.
152. Damage caused by the Minister, etc., to be compensated
153. Prescribed guidelinesThe Minister may, on the advice of the Authority, from time to time, prescribe guidelines to be followed by any authorized person or public authority while exercising their powers under this Act.
154. Decision to be in regard to objectivesWhile exercising his powers and functions under this Act, the Minister, Authority, authorized person or any other person shall have regard to—
155. Protection of the Minister and others from liabilityNo matter or thing done or omitted to be done by—
156. Public consultation
Part XV – Repeals, savings and transitional provisions
158. Transitional provisionsAt the commencement of this Act—
159. Notification of existing rights
160. Authority to record existing rights and to issue licence
161. Application of other relevant lawsWherever the provisions of this Act are inconsistent with the provisions of—
162. Repeal and savings
History of this document
01 December 2013