In 1994 South Africa emerged from political
isolation and installed its first democratic government. The country’s river
scientists emerged from scientific isolation to make a major global
contribution to a new science aimed at resuscitating the world’s dying rivers
and bringing a more caring balance into the management of those still in good
condition. As the incoming government prepared its new water law (National
Water Act of 1998 - NWA), the water scientists were ready with their knowledge
and vision of sustainability, and so the two
strands of history intertwined in ways unimaginable even a few years earlier.
Written by 12 lead authors and 30 contributing
authors, the book analyses the strengths and weaknesses
of South Africa’s application of its world-acclaimed NWA. After an initial two
background chapters there are six on implementation,
which describe how the country has mobilised to balance the demands for water
with the need to protect its rivers, wetlands, estuaries and groundwater. The
Part 1: Background
Chapter 1 Water supply and demand
Chapter 2 Water law in South Africa from 1652 to 1998 and beyond
Chapter 3 Institutional arrangements for protection of aquatic
Chapter 4 Tools and procedures for Resource Directed Measures
Chapter 5 RDM and Basic Human Needs
Chapter 6 Knowledge and skills development
Chapter 7 Giving effect to Resource Directed Measures
Chapter 8 The way forward
Resource Directed Measures mentioned in the book and chapter titles are three
measures recognised in Chapter 3 of the NWA:
classification of every major water resource in the country as either
Management Class 1 (Minimally used), Management Class 2 (Moderately used) or
Management Class 3 (Heavily used), through a process of research, stakeholder
consultation and negotiation.
2) A Reserve of
water from that water resource for Basic Human Needs and a further Ecological
Reserve of water for the ecosystem itself to ensure its continued health and
efficient functioning at the agreed Management level.
Quality Objectives, which are measurable targets that can be monitored in order
to ensure compliance of the Reserve and Management Class.
The book closes with ten suggested points
for action that can bring closer the vision of healthy water resources
providing reliable ecosystem services into the future.
Much has been learnt over the last two
decades, much has been achieved and much remains to be achieved. Awareness of the
need for sustainable use of inland waters has grown dramatically; mistakes have
been made. This book summarises the situation for water professionals both
within South Africa and elsewhere, and could provide insights for other
countries wishing to tread a similar pathway into the future. Hopefully, it
will also inspire young people in training to specialise as aquatic scientists.
Reference: King, J.
and H. Pienaar (eds) 2011. Sustainable use of South Africa’s inland waters: A
situation assessment of Resource Directed Measures 12 years after the 1998
National Water Act. Water Research Commission Report No. TT 491/11. Water
Research Commission, Pretoria. 259 pp.
Obtainable in hard copy from firstname.lastname@example.org. To download in electronic form go to the WRC
website (www.wrc.org.za), click on the
Knowledge Hub and enter the report number TT/491.