Efforts to Coordinate and Integrate Water Services in South African Metropolitan Municipalities: A Review

Journal Article


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Journal Title

Journal of Public Administration

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

South African Association of Public Administration and Management


University of Cape Town

South African municipalities operate in an increasingly water scarce environment. This, coupled with the removal of apartheid-era barriers that regulated influx and residential movement, and the consequent urbanisation that has ensued, has placed them under severe pressure to manage competing demands for water and waterborne sanitation. This article is based on the findings from a study initiated by the University of Cape Town's Urban Water Management group, which sought to investigate the institutional arrangements for managing water resources in South Africa's four largest metropolitan municipalities. The study was prompted by the appeal of the Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) concept, which advocates a holistic approach to managing urban water resources, focusing on the degree of coordination and integration. The data consisted of sixteen key informant interviews with twenty-six officials, and accompanying municipal planning documentation. Our findings revealed varying degrees of coordination, including potential steps towards integration, among water services and related departments. Line functions responsible for catchment and stormwater management were at the forefront of more extensive efforts to coordinate, while lower level coordination remained mainly reactive, displaying limited alignment between urban spatial planners and water services planning, and was hampered by resistance in water supply departments and institutional fragmentation.