Water policy and regulation are of vital importance for unconventional gas mining, which may have large impacts on water availability and water quality. However, various studies indicate that regulators have insufficient knowledge to make informed policy decisions on unconventional gas mining. Based on this observation we conducted a study on the availability of knowledge of unconventional gas mining of attendees at the 4th and 5th Orange River Basin symposiums that are held annually in South Africa. The study focused on knowledge and perceptions of unconventional gas mining over the 2-year period from 2012 to 2013 due to important developments with regard to unconventional gas mining that took place in South Africa over this period, which could affect decision-makers' policy decisions on unconventional gas mining. Our results indicate that knowledge of this mining technique among decision-makers is limited, primarily because fact-based research is not readily available. Reliable facts on unconventional gas mining are required in order to effectively regulate this activity in South Africa. This paper argues for fact-based regulation and adaptive management as the science and technology of shale gas mining evolves.