Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon

Water security

Water security must be a collective effort and must involve all people in the Gauteng City-Region. Our livelihoods depend on a common water system and our behaviour and actions will determine whether this system can meet needs now and into the future.

The GCR faces a multitude of water security challenges. These range from balancing the demands for limited water resources, ensuring all households have acceptable access to water services, pollution, flooding, unmet infrastructural upgrade needs, and inadequate sanitation. In this project, we hypothesize that challenges related to water security are very likely to worsen in the near future due to an ever growing GCR population needing to share insufficient and sometimes poorly managed water resources and sanitation systems.

The main goal of the project is to unravel the water security challenges in the GCR’s major urban centres. This includes seeking to understand both the critical bio-physical and governance factors at play in the GCR urban water management landscape, with more immediate attention being placed on understanding and exploring solutions to upstream-downstream water pollution challenges facing various urban areas in the GCR.

An important output from this project has been the development of a Gauteng Water Security Perspective, commissioned by Office of the Premier in the Gauteng Provincial Government. The water crisis experienced in Cape Town from 2016 to 2018, as well as other areas in South Africa, raised questions around water security in the GCR, and the Premier requested focused attention on the issue in early 2018. Gillian Maree from the GCRO, together with a team of water specialists from Pegasys Consulting as well as Mike Muller from the Wits School of Governance, wrote the perspective, which was completed in July 2018. Download the Perspective here.


As Gauteng’s population and economy continue to grow there is a need to continually review water security in the region. There are two outputs planned for the 2019/20 financial year. The first is a GCRO Provocation on urban water governance, under development as part of a series of Provocations on city-region governance.

The second is a collaborative research project on 'Day Zero', examining practitioner perspectives of water management. This research is a collaboration between GCRO, Brown University's Institute for Environment and Society, and the Global Change Institute at Wits.


Policy support

Water Security Perspective for the Gauteng City-Region: Securing water for continued growth and wellbeing. A perspective developed by GCRO, in partnership with other experts, on request from the Gauteng Premier.


Bischoff-Mattson, Z., Maree, G., Vogel, C., Lynch, A., Olivier, D., & Terblanche, D. (2020). 'Shape of a water crisis: practitioner perspectives on urban water scarcity and ‘Day Zero’ in South Africa'. Water Policy. 22, 193–210.

Other GCRO outputs

August 2017 Map of the Month. Watershed boundaries of the GCR

Recent presentations

Gillian Maree (April 2021). 'Water Security in the Gauteng City-Region', presentation to Infrastructure South Africa Visit to Gauteng Province, 30 April 2021.

Gillian Maree (2019). 'Water Security in the Gauteng City-Region', Faces of the City Seminar Series, University of the Witwatersrand, 20 August 2019.

Gillian Maree (2018). 'Planning for a water secure Gauteng City Region', Pretoria Architectural Forum, 15 May 2019.

GIllian Maree (2018). 'Planning for a water secure Gauteng City Region', SALGA: Water and Sanitation Working Group meeting, 23 November 2018.

Gillian Maree (September 2018). 'Evidence-based policy for water security in the GCR', atershed: Art, Science and Elemental Politics, Water Futures, Digital Imaginations, 13 September 2018.

Gillian Maree (July 2018). "Process and Method to develop the Gauteng Water Security Plan", Gauteng Technical Water Room, Gauteng Provincial Government, 24 July 2018.

Gillian Maree, Christina Culwick and Graeme Gotz (March 2018). 'Water Security in the GCR', Gauteng Premier's Coordinating Forum (PCF), Sunnyside Hotel, 23 March 2018.

Gillian Maree (December 2017). 'Water supply and water security in the GCR'. Gauteng Planning Forum. 7 December 2017

Last updated 12 November 2021.


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