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WATER INSECURITY – examples from Cape Town and the Water



Cape Town Almost Ran Out of Water, but Saved Itself. Could We?

In January 2018, after a historic 3 year drought, Cape Town officials announced that the South African capital was just 90 days from “Day Zero,” at which point it would run out of water. The city was spared from disaster, in part thanks to a massive water conservation campaign. What can the U.S., which is now facing its own historic drought, learn from Cape Town?



Updated on July 26, 2022 at 4:12 pm

Follow the link to the interview with myself and others

World Water Day Paddle: 22 March 2022

World Water Day Paddle echoes City’s priority to improving inland water quality

23 March 2022

Yesterday the City’s Executive Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation Councillor Zahid Badroodien and Executive Director for Water and Sanitation Michael Webster, teamed up with Dr Kevin Winter from the University of Cape Town and other participants, for a World Water Day Paddle. They got into canoes and paddled along Zandvlei, an important estuary and nature reserve, to highlight the value of partnerships. They also aimed to underscore the City’s commitment to improving our inland water quality.

Cleaning up industry’s water worries


4 MAY 2021

With clean water supplies increasingly scarce, Angeli Mehta looks at what industry is doing to reduce its demands

Fresh water is in parlous state. Droughts in South Africa and in Europe in 2018 were a wake-up call to industry. In Cape Town, the city came close to ‘day zero’ with the prospect of taps running dry. ‘We knew it was going to happen, but the fact that it came very quickly and dramatically was unexpected,’ says Kevin Winter, at the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town. ‘It caused the public to talk about water like they’ve never done before.’ READ MORE...


SA will miss UN’s clean water targets – Mail & Guardian 9 April 2021

With just nine years left to reach the United Nations’ sustainable development goal targets for water, South Africa will miss achieving these “by a long way”.

Poor economic growth, a water deficit, poor monitoring and data collection, increasing pollution and water stress worsened by climate change mean the country is unlikely to achieve the water development goals by 2030, said Kevin Winter, of the University of Cape Town’s Future Water Institute. 

In 2015, member states adopted the 17 integrated development goals as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and to ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.


People of Note – interview on Fine Music Radio with Rodney Trudgeon (28 March 2021)

In this uncertain world we are living in – what with the global Covid pandemic and global warming to name a few of the existential crises we seem to be facing – it’s often said that “the next great war will be fought over water”. Somebody who has spent much of his professional life considering this most valuable of resources, is UCT’s Dr Kevin Winter. Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Dr Winter is also lead researcher at UCT’s Future Water Institute, and is widely published on urban water management. He sprang to public prominence in the approach to the near calamitous “Day Zero”, a couple of years ago, when Cape Town almost became the first major city in the world to run out of drinking water. Dr Winter is my guest on “People of Note”……

Note: a long listen from Cape Town’s water to research at the Water Hub interspersed with music – all good fun!

South Africa is unlikely to achieve UN’s Water SDGs by 2030 [UCT News 24 March 2021]

Dr Kevin Winter of the University of Cape Townʼs (UCT) Future Water Institute in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science examines why South Africa is unlikely to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for water by 2030.

The SDGs are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity by 2030. With fewer than nine years ahead, it is unlikely that South Africa will achieve the targets set for water.

Read the published article here.

Theewaterskloof 2018

Milnerton lagoon – riddled with E.coli

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Dr Kevin Winter of UCT’s Future Water Institute about the disturbing readings from water samples recently collected from the Milnerton Lagoon on World Rivers Day in September. https://www.capetalk.co.za/podcasts/294/breakfast-with-refilwe-moloto/376740/unhealthy-level-of-e-coli-in-milnerton-lagoon

UGI WASTEFEW Urban Living Lab Project

Although the South African Weather Service forecasts the temperature increasing slightly the next two days, the week has been cold and rainy. Prior to the past few days, rainfall figures were below average for the month of May and with Cape Town’s dams edging towards the 50% full mark. The City of Cape Town has reminded residents that rainfall predictions remain uncertain and urged the public to continue to use water responsibly. We speak to Dr Kevin Winter of UCT’s Future Water Institute about what we can expect over the winter, the impact of this week’s rain on the dams, and will the snow be an added bonus to water levels. Podcast link here:


Progress on the Water Hub: surprised by nature-based solutions


Water in the Anthropocene in South Africa

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the global water crisis is one of the greatest threats to humanity. As South Africa’s National Water Week continues and World Water Day draws near, Dr Kevin Winter from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Future Water Institute considers the critical information available from our national water risk data. Read more…



World Water Day 22 March: overshadowed by Corona virus

Current events overshadow World Water Day on Friday 20 March. However, the map shows South Africa’s water outlook prior to the Western Cape drought from 2015 onward. See the bigger picture. Are you also wondering right now if the world is simply rebooting itself? Are we seeing the real impact of the Anthropocene?

The Western, Eastern and Northern Cape provinces are water stressed. The World Resource Institute data shows the state of water stress using data that was collected prior to 2014. The Western Cape drought began in 2015 and continues.


Keeping Cape Town’s wastewater flowing unsoiled

Cape Town is currently upgrading its wastewater treatment plants, most of which were built in the 1950s. The changes will improve the health of citizens — especially those in informal settlements and townships.

Published on ECO AFRICA Julia Jaki 20 January 2020  WATCH VIDEO :



Nature-based Urban Living Lab as a catalyst for the circular economy in South Africa

The problem of untreated surface water runoff

Surface water drainage systems in informal settlements in South Africa, and elsewhere, usually consist of unplanned channels that are used for discharging dirty water that flow alongside makeshift housing structures..Read more…

Also Blog on UrbanTransformations, Oxford University

Will the Master Plan be enough?

In conversation with Africa Melane, Cape Talk Radio, Sunday 1 December

Listen to podcast


Cape Talk & Radio 702 – 13 November 2019  with Audrey Masango


Peninsula Paddle: journey of hope

UCT News 16 September

After a painful week at UCT following the brutal murder of one of students, the Peninsula Paddle began in sombre mood using the paddle to reflect on a  ‘journey of hope’. 

Hope has philosophical roots in public theology. One way of finding hope, as opposed to fate and tragedy, is to build shared goals together and gradually learn what it means to take collective responsibility.

The Paddle has grown since 2010!

Alistair Lee and myself cutting the birthday cake. We were on the first paddle in 2010, along with Thomas Cousins and Trevor Johnston. What a journey!


Paddlers discover ‘sea of plastic’ in Cape Town river

2019-09-10 17:15 Story by Aletta Harrison News 24

What we found on the paddle


The health of our city is seen in its waterways, says scientist

10 September 2019 3:31 PM  Cape Talk Radio with Pippa Hudson

UCT’s Future Water Institute’s Dr Kevin Winter looks into Cape Town’s waterways as he marks 10 years of the Peninsula Paddle.Environmental scientist Dr Kevin Winter says the condition of the waterways in Cape Town is a direct reflection of the city’s state of health.


Water Expert Dr Kevin Winter Talks About Their Recent Peninsula Paddle

Cape Town TV 11 September

Water Expert, Dr Kevin Winter from the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town who is one of the founders of the Peninsula Paddle which took place on Sunday joined Sinalo Jonas over a Skype Interview chatting about the highlights of their latest Paddle.


Peninsula Paddle – 10 years on

Look back over what has been achieved and what still needs to be done


Talking point with Bongi Gwala SAFM – 12 August 2019


Lower Cape Town water tariffs, manage dams better – environmental scientist

Cape Talk Radio – 6 August 2019 7:21 AM

The Berg River Dam is Cape Town’s third-largest supply dam, and it reached full capacity about a fortnight ago.

This has lead to some people asking why the Cape can’t build another dam further downstream to capture the excess water for times when we will one day need the water again. Their argument would be that it will get lost to the sea anyway.

Dr Kevin Winter of UCT’s Future Water Institute recently wrote an interesting article on why it’s not so simple – and he talks to Africa Melane about his conclusions.

Winter believes the City should reduce water tarrifs at the end of the hydrological year in November.

If we sitting with at least 80% of water by the time we reach the end of October, that would be a good move.

— Dr Kevin Winter, Environmental scientist – Future Water Institute UCT

Dr Kevin Winter, Environmental scientist – Future Water Institute UCT

Managing the Berg River Dam overflow

Published UCT News 30 July 2019

Last week (23 July 2019) the Berg River Dam reached full capacity for the first time in five years. Capetonians were relieved to see the first of its supply dams overflowing and releasing water into the Berg River. With more rain ahead, it looks likely that parts of the Berg–Olifants catchment will receive average winter rainfall for 2019 when compared to historical records.

Signs are encouraging that the major dams supplying Cape Town and the surrounding region will be 80% full by 1 November, which signals the start of the hydrological year, compared to 34% in 2017. However, the sight of overflowing dams raises a question often aired in the media, that “overflowing dams are a waste of water”.

Managing dams might be a lot harder than we think….read more.

Cape Town’s Water Strategy: what to watch

Published in UCT news 22 July 2019

Cape Town’s Water Strategy was approved by the City Council on 30 May 2019 following a period of public comment. With a mere 200 public responses, there was much less interest in the water strategy when compared with the 55 000 comments received on the city’s website alone responding to the 2018 drought levy, which would have imposed an additional cost to ratepayers based on property value.

The water strategy required a different level of engagement. It is not that the public had lost interest in the water crisis, but the water strategy draft document was a difficult, long read that covered a host of ambitious plans and aspirations….read more on link:



South Africa’s water resources: A call to action!

South Africa faces a 17% water deficit by 2030. That’s not far away. Panic is the right reaction if this results in efforts to act strategically, to implement plans and also to inspire a younger generation to contribute to new thinking, new models for governance and technologies.

Future Water Institute’s Dr Kevin Winter warns that South Africa’s Master Plan for water security may not go far enough to address the impending crisis.

Read more….



Phew, 2018 was hectic! Didn’t realise Google was following me so intensely either.


‘Progressive’ new water strategy for Cape Town

A mural promoting water conservation efforts on a retaining wall at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront during the height of the water restrictions in 2018.

In conversation with Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance from Nordea. Sasja Beslik is also Co-chair of UNEP FI advisory Board on water & Finance (20/01/2019)

We are examining a sample of water before it enters the filtration system at the Water Hub. Next to us on cement catchpit is a clear of the water once it passed through a filtration cell. We are learning more about how nature-based system work and working more closely with nature.


Water expert weighs in on the viability of harvesting stormwater


The Peninsula Paddle Features in Leadership magazine November 2018


Crisis proofing South Africa’s water security

Published in The Conversation Africa, 12 November 2018

South Africa is often referred to as the 30th driest country in the world, a claim that’s based on its average annual rainfall of 500mm compared to the world average of 860mm. National rainfall averages have a purpose. They do, however, have limited value where regional and local rainfall distribution varies considerably and when water security is threatened by recurring droughts, or when water use is poorly regulated and managed. Average rainfall data is meaningless when water demand exceeds supply. Read more ….

The Conversation Africa 12 November 2018


Drought in the Arab World – Policy Workshop

From Cape Town to USA, and Mexico to Czech Republic, watch climate experts sharing their experiences with #droughts and #ClimateChange in general.

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture – ICBA, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National #Drought Mitigation Center (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), organized a two-day (25-26 September 2018) international policy workshop to share progress, outcomes and insights drought policy developments of the Regional Drought Management System for Middle East & North Africa (MENA-RDMS) project. More than 40 experts from 10 countries (such as #SouthAfrica#Mexico#USA#Morocco#Lebanon#Jordan#Tunisia#UnitedArabEmirates, and #CzechRepublic) participated in the workshop.



Day Zero: What Mexico can learn from Cape Town’s water crisis

Water demand management is an important means of averting shortages and managing citizen behavior, as Dr. Kevin Winter, a professor at the University of Cape Town explains. To avoid its own “Day Zero”, Dr. Winter explains a few things Mexico can do.

Watch interview: click on image


A Fable: beyond Day Zero

A modern fable_beyond Day Zero Oct 2018

Short presentation: Scitizen Dialogues – Muizenberg Festival 3 October 2018

Plan to ease CT water restrictions sends right tourism message, says scientist

Cape Town: “It is the end of our winter rainfall effectively”

Cape Town: "It is the end of our winter rainfall effectively"



Calls to ease water restrictions premature

UCT News 10 July  – Kevin Winter

Cape Town’s dams may be more than half full, but authorities and users alike are being warned that this is no time for complacency.

Cape Town’s dams may be more than half full, but authorities and users alike are being warned that this is no time for complacency.

Calls to ease the City of Cape Town’s water restrictions are premature, with the next six to eight weeks of winter rainfall being crucial, says Dr Kevin Winter of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Future Water Institute. Instead, at only halfway through the winter rainfall season, this is a time for patience and prudence.


Can the City of Cape Town afford relax water restrictions this winter?

Interview on Cape Talk radio – 6 July 2018

Dr Kevin Winter, from the Future Water Institute at University of Cape Town, says the City of Cape Town doesn’t have to wait for the Department of Water and Sanitation to relax water restrictions.

He says the department is simply acting responsibly by saying that the restrictions can only be relaxed at the end of winter or when the dam levels reach 85% (whichever comes first).

The City of Cape Town on the other hand says it cannot relax the restrictions without the department’s consent. Winter says the City at this point can only make sure that it stays within the water license requirements issued by the department.

We are only approaching close to where we were in 2015 in terms of dam levels so there is nothing to celebrate just yet, the days are still too early in terms of what we anticipate.

— Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

There’s been concerns about the tariffs that residents are to pay to make up for the loss of income in the City’s finances.

We are paying for the distribution of water and not the water itself and that is the important thing for creating a stable and sustainable income.

— Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Right now we shouldn’t be focusing more on what’s in the dams, we should be focusing more on how water is being used, the volume that’s being used to test whether the City is in control to be able to manage the demand.

— Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Dr Kevin Winter, senior lecturer for Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences


Day Zero: how Cape Town stopped the taps running dry – video

Early this year, the South African government announced that Day Zero was looming – a moment, after three years of unprecedented drought, when dam levels would be so low that taps would be turned off and people would have to fetch water at communal collection points.

After taking remedial measures, Capetonians managed to push back the date of Day Zero until next year. We visited the city to find out how the threat of an apocalyptic disaster has changed lives


Why you shouldn’t pave over your garden

UCT News 30 May 2018

“Now is not the time to pave over domestic gardens or allow the deterioration of parks. It is time to ‘grow green’ in water-sensitive ways.”

Read more about this story: three reasons why hardened surfaces have an environmental impact


Stormwater harvesting could be Cape Town’s water solution

Interview on Cape Talk Radio – 23 May 2018


The value of storm water

UCT News 14 May 2018


Cape of Evaporating Hope

Short documentary by Department of Film, Television, and Media Arts
School of Communications CCE/MCM 265
Quinnipiac University


Cape Town: When the water runs out


08 May 2018


Interview with Kevin Winter, Cape Town University


Water tap



What’s causing Water Shortages

Panel discussion on Al Jazeera TV 2 May 2018




Five lessons we are learning from Cape Town’s water scarcity

Published in Conversation.com  (4 April 2018)

…perhaps what other cities can learn too. Read article from this link


Photo of Berg River Dam – 7 March 2018 (48% full)

Preparing for an uncertain water future

Visit to Theewaterskloof dam with Mike Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action, previous Mayor of New York and Bloomberg business CEO.  7 March 2018


Water scarcity in Cape Town: a large city

Interview: Swiss Public Radio 6 March 2018


Day Zero is meant to cut Cape Town’s water use: what is it, and is it working?

The Conversation – 20 February


Will Cape Town Run out of Water?

20 February 2018

BBC World Service – Science: Africa 


Will Cape Town run out of water?

Interview with TRT television 6 February 2018


Five signs to watch for averting Day Zero


Taking the challenge of Cape Town’s water crisis- presentation to Greater Civic Alliance 23 September


What’s driving Cape Town’s water insecurity, and what can be done about it



Peninsula Paddle opens up the blue-green veins of the city

Posted on: August 1, 2017 9:22 AM



Cape Talk radio interview (18 July) on water in Cape Town’s underground tunnels

WATCH: Vlogger claims billions of litres of usable water in underground tunnels



Disrupters driving Cape Town’s water security (18 July)

The Western Cape region of South Africa is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record as a result of receiving well below average rainfall from 2015 onwards. By June 2017 the six main storage dams supplying the City of Cape Town (CoCT) were almost depleted with less than 9% of useable water available before the taps would run dry. Cape Town is almost entirely dependent on stored surface water and is facing disaster if it receives no significant rainfall over the remaining winter period or if the city’s planned pilot projects are unable to add any sufficient supplies to the system in the short term, e.g. desalination, treated effluent and abstraction from aquifers.

Water justice 10

…It is like drawing comfort from looking in the rear view mirror on the journey and then being confronted by an oncoming vehicle coming in the opposite direction in the same lane as shown by the drawing. The road looks better from behind as opposed to the challenge of changing future prospects ahead.

Read the full article here: Disrupters driving Cape Town water security


South African communities of faith: a vision for addressing Water Injustice in South Africa (12 July)

Water Justice Conference, St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town: March 2017

An overview of the final workshop

We are living in a broken, divided South Africa that is facing multiple issues including water injustice and socio-economic drought that affects human and environmental rights. South Africa is a water scarce country that is even more challenging because of the legacies of Apartheid that remain deeply entrenched in the struggle for a large rural majority in accessing clean, safe water.

Water justice 9 v2

Streams of water are transformed by communities of faith when values and belief systems inform rightful actions [Artwork credits: Chip Snaddon, 2017]

Read the full article here: South African communities of faith – A vision for addressing Water Injustice in South Africa


Interview with John Maytham, Cape Talk radio in response to article below:


“Water drill risks poisoning the wells” 24 March 2017: this is poor journalism where I am misquoted. An article cobbled together from a number of others articles that I have written on my blog site. A poorly written, confusing article. We want to work with journalists, but false reporting is not acceptable.


What we’ve learnt from the drought (UCT news 22 March 2017)



Lessons from the drought (Cape Talk radio 22 March – World Water Day)



Media Statement by the City of Cape Town’s executive Mayor Patricia de Lille

City continues proactive water demand management and medium to long term planning. Read the full statement here.MAYORS PRESS STATEMENT ON WATER MANAGEMENT 28 FEB 2017


Water sensitive urban design in practice: how do we bring down the deficit  caused by overshooting the use of potable water?

Watch the video link first, then see how this applies to Water Sensitive Development (WSD), i.e. practicing stormwater and rainfall harvesting, greywater use, treated effluent and the use of other options. It is about removing the dependency on stressed surface storage systems (Cape Town municipality relies on 98.5% of its water from dams).

Turton & Olsson_adapted 2
Diagram modified from Ohlsson and Turtin (1999)


Adapting to water scarcity

Since February 2017 Capetonians have had to deal with tighter controls over a dwindling water supply. How low can they go before limited supplies are unhealthy?

The last five years of rainfall measured at the Cape Town International Airport has been 30% below the average compared to the years from 1979 to 2000 (378 mm per annum as opposed to 527 mm). The city is drier. Read more… Adapting to water scarcity in the Western Cape


Environmental scientist supports CT mayor’s disaster water crisis call  [Cape Talk radio interview]

28 February 2017 4:42 PM

When the taps run dry

‘When the well is dry we know the value of water’ – Benjamin Franklin

The extreme scenario: dams and rivers are dry and conventional piped water and sewerage systems no longer flow. Then what?

It begins with a desperate search…[Read more] when-the-taps-run-dry




Pledge Nature Reserve, Knysna: a precious gem for urban drainage

A short report on the opportunities for implementing sustainable urban drainage and building a more water sensitive Knysna. This report follows a day workshop held at the Knysna Municipality on 1 December 2016 followed by field visit to the Pledge Nature Reserve. …[Read more] sustainable-urban-drainage-in-knysna_feb2017


This water crisis won’t be Cape Town’s last

It’s time to implement long-term strategies in the face of climate change and population growth

Water resources in Western Cape (SABC interview 15 Feb 2017)



Real time monitoring of water flow from an information settlement (4 Feb 2017)

Big breakthrough today. After months of developing different level sensors at the Water Hub, we installed a new one in a stormwater channel in the informal settlement of Langrug, Franschhoek. We can now monitor flows in real time. Thanks to UCT Enviro Science students, Elect Eng students and the Genius of Space project. Possibly a first for South Africa – a low cost electronic sensor, logger and transmitter. We want to know how flows change daily, weekly and during rainfall events.




Future water options from within the Cape Flats Aquifer: poorly understood risks (2 Feb 2017 – World Wetlands Day)

Cape Town’s pre-winter rainfall cannot come quickly enough in this drought stricken region. Since 2015 records show a below average rainfall for the southern Cape which has result in a reduced storage capacity of the major dams supplying the City of Cape Town, together with some smaller towns and the agricultural sector. The succession of droughts since 2000 is now a familiar occurrence. This is the third drought since 2000 – we have been here before. The reality is that an over reliance on surface water supply, treated to potable standards, is longer sustainable in meeting the total water demand…[Read more] the-cfa-an-extension-wetland-system


Waiting for the Rains: Cape Town in the grip of a drought (23 Jan 2017)

Cape Town residents are increasingly familiar with the constraints of water use. The region is in the grip of the third major drought since 2001. In April 2005, for example, the water storage capacity of the main supply dams reached an all-time low of just 26% overall. In this case, the City of Cape Town had already imposed …[Read more]cape-town_waiting-for-the-rain-january-2017


Book launch: Hydraulic Fracturing of the Karoo (13 December) -5 minute speech by Kevin (panellist)

Hydraulic Fracturing in the Karoo – Book Launch Tuesday 14 December, Law Faculty Quad (Level 3)

Kevin Winter

EGS Department, UCT

At the outset I wish to add my congratulations to the authors, editors and publishers of this book. It has arrived at a critical moment in South Africa’s quest for energy, which is closely linked to jobs and development, and on a more sobering note in some quarters, the insatiable appetite for wealth….[Read more] notes-on-fracking-for-book-launch

The final chapter sums up the position that we find ourselves with all the limitations of our knowledge and inability to predict the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. We need a risk averse and cautious approach that takes into account the limitations of our current knowledge. I conclude that we need a pause button. For 20 000 years people have adapted to the bioclimatic constraints of the Karoo and it will be a tragedy if the water resources of the Karoo are compromised for future generations while in pursuit of non-renewable energy sources. Read this book and share it with the decision makers and investors – it just might help to do things differently and in a more sustainable way. This is its contribution to thinking and future practice.


Cape Town’s Water Restrictions: too little too late? (November 2016)

After one week of Level 3 water restrictions in Cape Town, many residents are likely to be feeling the strain of watering their gardens by hand. Not only is it hard work but it requires a significant behavioural adjustment. This appears to be the first time that Cape Town residents have had to fall in line with such drastic water saving measures that are required by law in the city….read more here: water-restrictions_too-little-too-late_final


Imagining the Princess: workshop to develop vision for Princess Vlei, Cape Town – 8 October 2016

Such a privilege to meet with members of the Princess Vlei Forum on Saturday for a workshop and discussion on developing the vlei and surrounding area as a public site for recreation, cultural experience, and to reconnect people with nature and rich social history of this area. Thoroughly enjoyed lively discussions with passionate people whose stories and experiences of the vlei (lake) make this one of hotspots to watch in the future as it develops into a rich heritage site and an important connecting link for healing the wounds of Apartheid in the city. See more: PV Forum homepage



The Water Hub at Franschhoek

This project has just begun as a new innovation, research, demonstration and training centre for treating contaminated water with nature, growing food in an urban setting, and uses renewable energy.  Its an exciting long term project that is set to inspire a new generation to do things different.


[Model credit: Roark Robinson, MRA Architects]

See the video: Video explaining the Water Hub

And link to the brochure:waterhub-brochure-version-4a

More detail on the website: The Water Hub, Franschhoek


Build a budget domestic greywater system

Cape Town is a water scarce area, yet homes (over 800 000) are serviced by very high quality water which is also used to irrigate gardens. Alternate water sources need to be exploited. Sending relatively clean water from a daily shower to a sewerage pipeline is a poor way of managing scarce water. I should have taken the initiative earlier, but always felt that the commercially systems were too expensive despite it being the ‘right thing to do’ in water management.

It’s easy to build these systems. The photograph below shows most of the items required. The most expensive is a submersible pump with a flotation switch (about R1500). The rest of bits and pieces costs about R500.


The final product below shows the 40mm feeding the bin (with its secure lid). The pump operates when 30 litres of greywater accumulate in container and has sufficient power to distribute water from the sprinkler over radius of 5 metres.


I’ve just planted new grass and am pleased with the growth of the lawn. It gets watered 3 times a day receiving about 30 litres each time. It’s that simple!


Greywater is an alternate water source. The use of this water should be encouraged in a controlled environment, where it can be monitored and managed. There are some risks, but there is no reason why it should not be encouraged under these conditions. Where is the incentive? Why isn’t greywater an option that becomes a city wide policy for sustainable water use?


Cool Shacks

Talk given to Christ Church, Kenilworth, 19 November 2015, Pecha Kucha style – 20 seconds a slide, 20 slides.

Cool Shacks_CCK November 2015

If informal settlements are here to stay in the short to medium term, perhaps longer, then how can shacks offer a safe, dignified and healthy environment? If we are serious about creating liveable cities then at least seven elements are necessary to build a healthy home.



UCT students are involved in training the bare foot builder to retrofit their homes frugally. It starts by recognising critical, one has to do with elevated temperatures and trapped heat in a shack dwelling. The table below shows how they are going about their work:

Making shack dwellings more liveable- THE PROCESS DOCUMENT


South Africa facing looming water crisis

19 August 2015 3:29 PM

As consumers continue to come to terms with an erratic electricity supply, they may be dealing with erratic delivery of another household staple – water – if engineering consulting firm Gibb’s latest report is to be believed.

Their report detailing South Africa’s water supply situation revealed water loss across municipalities to be a significant culprit in the growing water crisis. Water loss in includes losses within pipes, inaccurate meter readings and unauthorized consumption – water theft.

Speaking to 702’s Azania Mosaka, Dr Kevin Winter UCT’S Environmental & Geographical Science Department, says possible solutions to the crisis include new public-private partnerships, more awareness about water conservation as well as new methods of water cleaning.

Click below to hear the full conversation…



Peninsula Paddle 2015

Getting important messages across: ‘we are all connecting to the waterways’ and ‘the health of city is seen in its waterways’.

This year the paddle aims to raise sufficient funds to install 10 high resolution continuous monitoring instruments in various places along the Paddle route. We lack data to really understand much about how rivers and vleis are being affected daily.

More details: www.peninsulapaddle.wordpress.com



Contact details

University of Cape Town
Environmental & Geographical Science Department
Upper Campus

Tel: 0216502875

Email: kevin.winter@uct.ac.za

  1. You are a very exciting expert, thanks (edited for correctness)

  2. Hi Prof.

    I think this is a great site! Thoroughly enjoyed browsing through it. Well done for all the great work you’re involve with! I will be watching this space…

    Best regards,

  3. This is very relevant, especially seeing that South Africa is currently experiencing a drought

  4. Hi. I would like to follow your writing. Thx.

  5. Hello Dr Winter,

    after reading through the information on your site it seems we have a common goal. Over the last 10 years we at Urban Stormwater Technologies have developed the first, scientifically proven, at source, stormwater filtration device. The CBI is positioned to allow the water and waste to enter as normal.

    The CBI then captures 95% of all wind, water and malicious waste that enters drains whilst filtering the highly particulate rich stormwater to below 150 Microns at over 30 L/s. The overall improvement in water quality very high (still in publishing phase). This simple technology is a major disruption to the entry of waste meaning: we can now use our impermeable surfaces to capture the rain
    we can use the CBI to filter at source or entry into the stormwater drains
    we can utilise the drains and interconnecting pipes to carry this drastically improved water to
    central locations for further filtration prior to Managed Aquifer Recharge and other water
    storage options.

    All of the lab and field science has been carried out by CSIRO, ChemCentre (NATA) and Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. We have had two papers published by Elsevier with another 3 are currently in the process.

    If this information is helpful and you wish to receive more, please send me your email to craig.rothleitner@urbanstormwater.com.au and I will forward the science, other information, video links, etc.

    Kind Regards


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