Original Research

Water and the public trust doctrine – a South African perspective

Elmarie van der Schyff, Germarie Viljoen
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 4, No 2 | a156 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v4i2.156 | © 2008 Elmarie van der Schyff, Germarie Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 March 2016 | Published: 04 April 2008

About the author(s)

Elmarie van der Schyff, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Germarie Viljoen, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

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The legal principles concerning rights to water have been changed considerably by the provisions of the National Water Act 36 of 1998. The National Water Act aims to redistribute water rights to previously disadvantaged people and communities by the introduction and application of a public trust doctrine to South African natural resources law. It is proposed that these legislative measures will ensure that water as a natural resource will be used to the benefit of the nation as a whole. However, the practical application of the public trust doctrine needs to be analysed, especially with the view of determining the actual benefits to poor and deprived people.


Water; public trust doctrine; hierarchy of entitlements; poverty


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