LONG-TERM WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN SEMI-ARID AREAS: A SOUTH AFRICAN CASE STUDY
Free (open access)
Volume 3 (2008), Issue 2
161 - 179
W.J. DE LANGE, T.E. KLEYNHANS
Fresh water resources provide a platform for complex and often emotional issues to develop, particularly in resource scarcity situations. Bulk-water infrastructure contains elements of a public good and has proved vulnerable to failures in market and government driven allocation strategies. Common to both are uncaptured costs and benefits due to shortcomings in cost quantification techniques. Natural ecosystems stand to lose the most since ecosystem services are often not quantifiable in monetary terms and therefore neglected in allocation decision-making. This study took on the challenge of expanding current decision-support to promote more inclusive long-term water management. A case-study approach with the focus on a choice related problem regarding different long-term bulk-water resource management options was applied in the Western Cape province. The study incorporated components of economic valuation theory, a public survey and a modified Delphi expert panel technique. Both spatial and temporal dimensions of the decision-making context were expanded. Two surveys were completed to accommodate these expansions. The first focused on public preference in water allocation management and the relative merit of accommodating public preference in highly specialised decision-making such as long-term water allocation decision-making. The second survey utilised a modified Delphi technique in which an expert panel indicated the relative merit of two alternative long-term allocation strategies. A willingness to pay for ‘greener’ water was observed and may be used to motivate a paradigm shift from the management’s perspective to consider, without fear of harming their own political position, ‘greener’ water supply options more seriously even if these options imply higher direct costs to the public.
decision-support, public participation, water management