Prioritisation of catchment areas for improved water service delivery using GIS spatial analyses: A comparison of two South African river systems, the uMngeni and Umzimvubu

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Gary de Winnaar

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As global demands for natural resources increases, so then do the pressures exerted on ecosystems increase. The developing ecological deficit is reaching critical levels to the point where ecosystems are unable to deliver valuable services such as fresh water to meet human demands. This is particularly the case in semi-arid countries such as South Africa, which continues to experience extreme water shortages and periods of severe drought. The uMngeni Catchment in KwaZulu-Natal and the uMzimvubu Catchment in the Eastern Cape both showcase exciting water governance partnerships in South Africa, each unique regarding catchment management and water use. The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership is focused on integrating ecological infrastructure solutions to support built infrastructure investments to address water security challenges, while the Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme aims to conserve the river system through sustainable restoration and maintenance of the catchment. Both catchments are important water resources and economic hubs for South Africa, and both are suffering considerable declines in water quality and water supply, coupled with the fast-growing population. This study presents findings from GIS spatial analyses conducted for each partnership. Analyses differed in terms of information inputs but shared the objective of prioritising areas for guiding catchment management and restoration interventions to promote water-related services. Outputs are presented using sub-catchments to represent the flow of services within catchments, linked to people and ecological infrastructure. Prioritisation maps have provided a pivotal role in decision making by the respective partnerships with the ultimate goal of improving human well-being.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration