Catchment, Stormwater and River Management in Cape Town, South Africa
In South Africa, a traditional approach to stormwater drainage has considered natural features such as rivers and wetlands as little more than convenient receptors for urban waste and storm runoff. Many rivers were canalized and wetland areas in-filled and drained to allow for urban development, dramatically altering their characteristics. This approach has inadvertently resulted in degradation of natural watercourses and precipitated a decline in water quality with concomitant adverse effects for human health, ecological integrity and community interaction with rivers and vleis (marshes).
Although already fairly well advanced in many developed countries, a paradigm shift in approach to stormwater and river management has recently been adopted in Cape Town, based on the philosophy of integrated catchment management. This chapter provides basic insight into the philosophy of urban catchment management and outlines some of the issues and challenges facing stormwater and urban river managers in Cape Town. It is hoped that the approach and recent experience in Cape Town will be of benefit to managers in other cities facing similar challenges.
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