The In­au­gu­ral Lec­ture ti­tled: ‘Af­ter the wa­ter cri­sis: how to turn Cape Town into a wa­ter-sen­si­tive city’ by Pro­fes­sor Neil Ar­mitage

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE an­nounce­ment of “Day Zero” – when the taps would be turned off – re­ver­ber­ated around the world. Was Cape Town go­ing to be the first ma­jor city with­out wa­ter? It cer­tainly woke Capeto­ni­ans to the need to get se­ri­ous about sav­ing wa­ter!

To their credit, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Pro­vin­cial Govern­ment worked tire­lessly be­hind the scenes to keep the wa­ter flow­ing, while most Capeto­ni­ans even­tu­ally got into the spirit of sav­ing and learnt how to make do us­ing less or non-potable wa­ter. Agri­cul­ture made con­sid­er­able sac­ri­fices as well.

Now that we have had a more nor­mal rainy sea­son, the “big six” dams have re­cov­ered to an ex­tent, and the wa­ter cri­sis seems to be a thing of the past, what should Cape Town – and Capeto­ni­ans – be do­ing to avoid any fu­ture Day Zero?

The city is al­ready talk­ing of a “new nor­mal” and build­ing re­silience with re­spect to wa­ter sup­ply – but what is the new nor­mal and how does one build re­silience in a rapidly chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment?

Wa­ter Sen­si­tive Ur­ban De­sign (WSUD) (https://www.Youtube.Com/watch?V=b_dt­nozytr4) is a con­cept that was largely de­vel­oped in re­sponse to the Aus­tralian Mil­len­nium Drought, which had much in com­mon with what we are cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in South Africa. It is be­ing adopted in South Africa where it is called Wa­ter Sen­si­tive De­sign (WSD).

Key to un­der­stand­ing WSD is the no­tion of a Wa­ter Sen­si­tive City (WSC), a city where the man­age­ment of wa­ter is given promi­nence (https://www.Youtube.Com/watch?V=6kfqem­clxk8).

WSD takes many forms, but an im­por­tant par­a­digm shift is to start view­ing towns and cities as im­por­tant wa­ter catch­ments sup­ple­men­tary to – per­haps even re­plac­ing – re­mote ru­ral catch­ments.

The Fu­ture Wa­ter Re­search In­sti­tute (http://www.Fu­ture­wa­ter. Uct.Ac.Za/), through the Ur­ban Wa­ter Man­age­ment Re­search Unit, has been work­ing with the Wa­ter Re­search Com­mis­sion (WRC) of South Africa for more than 10 years in a bid to guide South African towns and cities towards greater wa­ter sen­si­tiv­ity. Come and lis­ten to Neil Ar­mitage as he dis­cusses what this might mean for Cape Town – and Capeto­ni­ans.

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