Water Source Areas Programme | WWF South Africa

	© Peter Chadwick

Water Source Areas

While our modern water system is comprised of both engineered infrastructure and ecological infrastructure, the engineered part consisting of pipes, canals and dams is heavily dependent on the healthy functioning of the natural part of the water cycle.
Hence, our water security in this century will depend on our ability to plan our development in a way that acknowledges the limitations of our natural resources – especially our strategic water source areas which are the water factories to our cities.

We need to prioritise their protection, and responsible use, if we are to grow a sustainable economy that meets the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.

Water managers are inevitably faced with finding new and innovative ways of improving both water quality and quantity to meet the increasing water demands of the country. Yet, appropriate management of these water source areas – which occupy only 8% of the land surface area – can greatly support downstream sustainability of water quality and quantity.

In South Africa, our major metropoles are supplied by a few critical catchments that are often far from sight of the cities they supply. Residents in the greater Ethekwini Municipality receive most of their water from the southern Drakensberg water source area, some 200 km away from Durban, while in Gauteng water is transferred via a network of pipes and canals from Lesotho!

These water-supplying landscapes are the very lifeblood of our cities and yet many are threatened by land degradation linked to mining, agriculture, poorly managed forestry and invasive alien plants. SA’s strategic water source areas can be grouped into 21 zones. Five of these are of local importance, but have limited downstream dependents and impact – these are mainly on the coast in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The remaining 16 water source areas are of national importance and form the headwaters of major river systems which supply significant downstream areas as well as enabling the economy through inter-basin transfers. Disrupting water supply from these 16 water source areas would effectively turn off the taps to our economy and seriously impact our food and water security.

  • Sanlam

Implementing partners
  • Water Research Commission (WRC)
  • Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Tomorrow Matters Now (ToMa-Now)
The journey of water saw water through its transition from a purely natural function to it's purposeful use by people.

To truly appreciate and value water, we need to have an understanding of where our water really comes from. Water does not come from a dam, a bottle or a tap – it comes from nature.

Dean Muruven, WWF-SA’s Water Source Area Programme Manager

The Journey of Water (Part 1)

Episode 1: "The Journey of Water" - In recognition of International Water Day (March 22nd), I recently took part in an epic 4-day journey to raise awareness of South Africa’s most precious resource; Water. In this 2-part series, I carry a symbolic glass of water from the Berg River Dam to the city bowl of Cape Town (over 80km's away) to prove that water doesn’t simply come from your taps. I was joined along the way by several freshwater experts that explained the difficulties which threaten our countries drinking water. Watch Episode 1 to find out more: JoW Episode 1 Synopsis: The Journey of Water begins within the natural surroundings of South Africa’s water source areas. eNCA Chief Meteorologist Derek Van Dam takes us on an adventure that will help you think twice about turning on your taps at home.

Posted by Derek Van Dam Official Fan Page on Friday, March 21, 2014
The Journey of Water (Part 2):

This is the second instalment of a 2-part series from eNCA Chief Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. It highlights the difficulties South Africa's freshwater undergoes to get to your taps at home.

Posted by Derek Van Dam Official Fan Page on Thursday, April 3, 2014