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New interactive brochure: Why we must protect SA’s water source areas now

17 November 2017 at 10:58 am

South Africa’s 22 water source areas produce disproportionately greater volumes of water in relation to their size. These 22 water source areas make up 8% of our land, and provides us with 50% of our surface run-off (water in wetlands, streams and rivers).

Our water source areas are situated in five provinces (Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Western Cape) and, together, they:

  • support the water needs of approximately 60% of our population;
  • support 67% of our national economic activity; and
  • supply approximately 70% of our irrigation water.

Despite their critical importance, water source areas are confronted with a multiplicity of threats, including land degradation stemming from cultivation, plantations and over-grazing as well as mining, urban development, alien invasive vegetation, climate change and fires.

In 2016, relying on a comprehensive body of work undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) – supported by the Water Research Commission and the Departments of Water & Sanitation and Environmental Affairs – to identify these water sources areas, the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and WWF-SA embarked on the Secure our Strategic Water Source Areas project. The focus of our work has been to identify, engage and advocate for urgent adoption of mechanisms to secure the long-term integrity and legal protection of our strategic water sources.

To explain the importance of providing legal protection for water source areas, we have developed a new interactive brochure.

The brochure provides an introduction and background to our water source areas and their importance for our development, health and well-being; highlights threats to our water source areas; and outlines legal tools and measures that are available to protect our water source areas. Importantly, the brochure provides a background to each of our 22 unique water source areas; with details on specific threats, protection levels, land-use and threat status of river and wetland ecosystems in each.

Support our call for the legal protection of SA’s water source areas by downloading and sharing our brochure as widely as possible.


For media queries, please contact Annette Gibbs on [email protected] or 082 467 1295