Long term water security begins at the source: A case study of the Greater Cape Town Water Fund

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Louise Stafford

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In the summer of 2017/18, Cape Town, South Africa’s second largest city, experienced the cumulative impact of one of the worst droughts on record. The reservoir levels dropped to critically low levels and unprecedented water restrictions were implemented to avoid a situation where the taps would run dry. Cape Town’s human population and associated economic activities grow, while climate models show future decreases in rainfall accompanied with higher temperatures, increasing the risk of water shortages. Current forecasts suggest that an additional 300-350 million liters of water per day will be needed by 2028 to ensure supply meets demand. Over R8 billion in public funding is being considered for augmenting water supply through investments in desalination, Table Mountain Group Aquifer drilling, water reuse and increased surface water storage to meet the required demand. Over two-thirds of the sub-catchments upon which the region depends for its water are affected by alien plant invasions, reducing the amount of water that reaches the rivers and dams by 55 Mm³ per year. The Greater Cape Town Water Fund Business Case launched in 2018, shows an investment of R372 million will generate annual water gains of 55 Mm³, increasing to 100 Mm³ within 30 years at one-tenth the unit cost of alternative supply options. The results of this business case demonstrate that restoring ecological infrastructure is a cost-effective and sustainable means of augmenting water and securing a long-term supply.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration