The Status of Groundwater Policy and Governance in South Africa

Role of Local Partnerships to support Local Groundwater Resource Management


With drought events predicted to become more common because of climate change, groundwater can play an important role as part of the overall water resource for the City of Cape Town, which was severely impacted by drought between 2015 and 2018.

Given the importance of groundwater and the widespread use of boreholes, it is key for water resource management to understand the potential of groundwater reserves and to strengthen and support groundwater governance in the Table Mountain Strategic Water Source Area (TMSWSA), to meet both current and future challenges. The WWF SA has supported the formation of a Partnership to support sustainable management of the TMSWSA, with the aim of promoting sustainable governance across the public and private sectors.

OneWorld undertook a reconnaissance of existing groundwater related policy, legal frameworks and strategies related to groundwater governance in South Africa, and provided a summary of interlinkages, including mapping of the relevant mandated institutions together with their functions/responsibilities related to groundwater management. A summary of key challenges, gaps and any overlaps were also provided, with a particular lens of possible entry points for the proposed TMSWSA Partnership.

OneWorld identified frameworks to implement groundwater governance and groundwater resource management at a local government level which the TMSWSA Partnership could take forward. This included consideration of essential partners (mandated institutions and beyond) focusing on groundwater in Cape Town. This will lead to a summary of recommendations, whereafter we will compile a set of case studies of international examples.

Project Data

Client: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Africa

Project duration: June – December 2021

Region: South Africa, with a focus on the Table Mountain Strategic Water Source Area, Cape Town

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Maps of groundwater recharge, risks, and exploitability - Cape Town