Unfortunately not. This matter is subject to numerous pieces of legislation and regulations. It can cost you a pretty penny and dry up your fountain in a heartbeat (figuratively speaking, of course!) if you do not abide by the legislation.
Not only are you faced with legislative red tape, but the Departments of Water Affairs, Health and Environmental Affairs are also involved in regulating this particular revenue stream.
Where do I begin?
Any person or entity (the extractor) who wants to extract spring water must acquire a Water Use License issued in terms of the Water Act 36 of 1998, before he or she may extract the water.
To apply for a water license the extractor can download the application forms online and submit the completed forms, in hard copy, at his or her closest regional branch of the Department of Water Affairs.
The application process is cumbersome and consists of different phases. The applicant will also be required to submit various supporting documents, which includes, but is not limited to, a technical report to be compiled by a qualified person at the cost of the applicant.
Extractors need to be aware of the fact that water use licenses are issued to a specific person or entity, for a specific use, and for a specific water source.
Accordingly, water use licenses cannot be sold with a property on which the source is found and each subsequent owner needs to apply for his or her own water use license.
The extractor also needs to be aware of the fact that he or she needs to apply for a water use license which specifically allows for the extracting of water for the bottling and selling thereof. Should the extractor already possess a licence which allows, for instance, for irrigation, he or she should still apply for a water use licence which provides for the extraction of water from the source for the bottling and selling thereof.
What needs to happen after I acquire a water use license?
The water will be qualified as foodstuffs in terms of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act 54 of 1972, regulated by the Department of Health, in light of the fact that the water will be sold for human consumption. The water sold will accordingly have to comply with the act.
The act distinguishes between 3 types of water that are suitable for human consumption. It determines, amongst other things, what the chemical and mineral composition of each type of consumable water must be.
The extractor must be fully aware of the classification that will be ascribed to the water extracted, and must ensure that he or she complies with the requirements of the particular type of water as regulated by this act.
Is there anything else that I need to keep mind?
A further aspect that requires attention is the labelling and packaging requirements of bottled water. The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act stipulates different labelling requirements for each type of water. However, generally speaking, each label needs to indicate where the water was extracted, what its chemical and mineral composition is and whether it is sparkling or still water.
This area of law is extremely complex and extractors must be diligent in their compliance with the regulatory framework in order to prevent any fines and unnecessary litigation.
Prospective extractors are advised to seek legal advice when entering into the business of extracting water in order to sell it as drinkable water, to ensure that the foundation of their new and exciting business is rock-solid.
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