Developing Climate Change Adaptation Measures and Decision-Support System for Selected South African Water Boards

Two projects have invested the impacts of climate change on South African rivers:

  1. Developing Climate Change Adaptation  Measures and Decision-Support System for Selected South African Water Boards** (WRC funded K5/2018 project)
  2. Impacts of Climate Change in Determining the Ecological Reserve (WRC funded K5/2834/1&2 project)*

Developing Climate Change Adaptation Measures and Decision-Support System for Selected South African Water Boards

A Water Research Commission Project (K5/2018)

The project aimed to quantify the likely changes in various hydro-climate variables (rainfall, evaporation, groundwater recharge, runoff, water quality, etc.), but also the uncertainty in these changes, as they will impact on future water management plans and sustainable development. The proposed project aimed to investigate climate change adaptation measures for a water board, in the context of developmental changes by developing generic estimation tools, monitoring strategies and a decision support framework. The framework identified risks, vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies to climate change in order to allow the water boards to fulfill their water supply delivery mandates. The study undertook the analysis in cooperation with Amatola Water Board, a medium size water board in South Africa. The project ran for three years from April 2010 to March 2013.

The aims of this project were:

  1. To identify potential impacts and threats to sustainable water services delivery posed by climate change, as well as the uncertainties associated with these, with regards to changes in water quantity, water quality and socio-economic developments. This will be done through application of existing or newly developed estimation tools that can be used to convert downscaled Global Climate Models (GCM) output data to likely changes (including uncertainties) in the variables that impact directly on the operations of water boards (water quantity and quality). Part of the estimation process will include timescales of the expected changes.
  2. Develop a methodology for assessing risks and vulnerabilities (including uncertainties in predictions) to climate change for Water Boards and their capacity to fulfill their mandate on water services delivery.
  3. Develop a strategy and monitoring network for water audits in order to monitor indicators of change.
  4. Derive Thresholds of Potential Concerns (TPCs) for water quality and quantity issues for Water Boards related to raw and potable water, discharges, pricing effects, etc. based on the outputs of the climate models.
  5. Develop a decision-support framework for an adaptive management strategy to assess and modify water services delivery and development plans of the Water Boards in terms of infrastructure repair and developments, water conservation and demand management, water pricing changes and other associated issues.

Project Team

Project leader: Prof. Denis Hughes, IWR, Rhodes University
Researchers: Dr. Sukhmani Mantel, Dr. Andrew Slaughter
Post-graduate students: Mr. Thabiso Mohobane (PhD, graduated 2014)
Collaborators: Amatola Water Board

Project Deliverables

Individuals and organizations interested in the progress of the project can access the final project deliverable.

Final Deliverable: Informing the Responses of Water Service Delivery Institutions to Climate and Development Changes: A Case Study in the Amatole Region, Eastern Cape

K52018 Final Deliverable 2014 (7990.1 kb) (includes all previous deliverables)

Journal publication

Mantel S.K., D.A. Hughes and A.S. Slaughter (2015) Water resources management in the context of future climate and development changes: A South African case study. Journal for Water and Climate 6(4): 772–786, doi:10.2166/wcc.2015.098.

Slaughter A.S., Mantel S.K., and D.A. Hughes (2016) Water Quality Management in the context of future climate and development changes: A South African case study. Journal of Water and Climate Change 7(4): 775–787, jwc2016138; doi:10.2166/wcc.2016.138


Impacts of Climate Change in Determining the Ecological Reserve

A Water Research Commission Project (K5/2834/1&2)

The vulnerability of freshwater resources to the impacts of climate change has been recognised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC Fourth Assessment: Parry et al. 2007). The Water Research Commission has also placed emphasis on the need for research on climate change with potential consequences on water resources through increased temperatures and increased hydrological variability (surface and groundwater) (Water Research Commission 2009). These are anticipated to manifest as changes in seasonal rainfall patterns, potential flooding and drought, and sea level changes in the coastal areas. Through the Climate Change Lighthouse (one of five WRC Lighthouses that aim to advance knowledge and solution development for priority water issues), research is being directed to align with the National Climate Change Response Policy and Strategy (http://www.gov.za/documents/national-climate-change-response-white-paper; accessed 20 June 2017) and to support the Water for Growth and Development Framework (http://www.wrc.org.za/Pages/LH2-ClimateChange.aspx; accessed 20 June 2017). However, growth and development need to occur in the context of long-term sustainability of freshwater systems, which requires the conservation of riverine ecosystems (and the associated ecosystem services) and appropriate management through implementation of tools such as the ecological Reserve, as defined under the National Water Act (NWA) No. 36 of 1998. The near future and long-term impacts of climate change require evaluation of the adaptive capacity of the riverine ecosystems to promote sustainability. This is the motivation behind this project, which targets the knowledge gap of the results of an assessment of the ecological Reserve, in light of climate change, and development of a modelling framework for incorporating climate change scenarios into ecological Reserve using the Revised Desktop Reserve model (Hughes et al. 2014).

This project aimed to develop a methodology which would be able to analyse the potential impacts of climate change on present day ecological Reserve determination methods. The project focused on a single case study of the Doring River in the Western Cape because of limited time and the complexity of the case study considering various climate change scenarios.

The specific aims of the project included:

  1. Determine the impacts of climate change on the ecological Reserve as set for the Doring River.
  2. Assess the resulting impacts of the increased variability.
  3. Identify and evaluate the adaptive response options.

 

Project Team

Project leader: Dr Jane Tanner, IWR, Rhodes University
Researchers: Dr Neil Griffin, Dr Andrew Slaughter, Dr Sukhmani Mantel, Prof Denis Hughes, Ms Margaret Wolff
Post-graduate students: Ms. Pumza Dubula (PhD)
Collaborators: Dr Benjamin van der Waal, Dr James MacKenzie, Dr Nelson Odume, Dr Bruce Paxton and Mr David Forsyth

Project Deliverables

Individuals and organizations interested in the progress of the project can access the final project deliverable.

Final Deliverable: Impacts of Climate Change in Determining the Ecological Reserve

Last Modified: Wed, 12 Feb 2020 15:00:51 SAST