The waste discharge charge system (WDCS) is being developed by the Department of Water Affairs to promote waste reduction and water conservation. It forms part of the Pricing Strategy, which is being established under the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998). The WDCS is based on the polluter-pays principle and aims to:

  • promote the sustainable development and efficient use of water resources

  • promote the internalisation of environmental costs by impactors

  • create financial incentives for dischargers to reduce waste and use water resources in a more optimal way.

The WDCS is premised on resource quality objectives (RQOs) as the measure of acceptable risk, and seeks to achieve RQOs at lowest total cost to the catchment. Where RQOs are exceeded or are threatened, impact on the resource is unacceptable and the WDCS may be deployed to achieve RQOs. The system will be applied at a catchment scale where the catchment is defined as those areas that have a significant impact on water quality, or are impacted by the specific water quality problem such as salinity, nutrients, heavy metals and organics. This paper aims to provide a summary of the WDCS Strategy.