This project contributes to developing an integrated and shared knowledge base to foster collaborative and sustainable groundwater use and recharge at the city-regional scale, to support urban growth while managing drought risk within a changing climate. The project aims to conduct an urban water metabolism analysis for two selected city regions (the city and surrounds of Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town) and analyze institutional arrangements for groundwater governance in the two cases. The urban water metabolism analyses will be used to explore urban recharge processes under a range of likely hydrological shifts and extremes (magnitude and frequency of drought) and urban planning/land cover scenarios (focusing on imperviousness) for 2040-2060. The governance network analysis will be used to facilitate multi-stakeholder Learning Lab engagements exploring the applicability of the urban water metabolism analysis and scenarios to build a shared understanding of groundwater as part of the larger urban water cycle, and to strengthen the coordination needed to make, implement and modify the rules of the groundwater resource regime to adapt to changing hydrological and urban conditions. In undertaking this work, capacity will be strengthened to integrate the natural and social science aspects of sustainably managing groundwater in and around growing urban areas in light of changing climate conditions affecting patterns of water demand, availability, and quality. This will be done by fostering collaboration between mid-level researchers engaged in urban metabolism, multi-level governance, and climate science research, with a shared focus on urban water management, as well as co-supervising two Masters students, one focusing on biophysical water flows and the other on institutional arrangements and governance networks influencing groundwater flows. The outputs will support the shift to a more sustainable and integrated approach to managing groundwater as part of the water supply mix for growing urban areas that share water sources across municipal and provincial boundaries and face increasing drought risk under climate change.
Time Frames: 2020 – Current