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Cape Town, a city without (enough) water

Thursday 28 June 2018, 11:00 - 12:00
Mechanical Engineering LT B (2.37)


Cape Town – a rapidly growing city of four million – is currently suffering from the worst drought on record. After three consecutive dry years, including the two driest years on record, the reservoirs supplying the region are nearly empty. Extreme water restrictions – limiting per capita daily use to a mere 50 litres – have been implemented and contingency plans made for a complete shut-down of 75% of the system with water only available at 200 water points guarded by the army. Ironically, Cape Town had a reputation for its exemplary water management – easily the best in the country. What went wrong? What is the City doing to manage the crisis? What is it like to live under such challenging circumstances? What is the prognosis for the future?


Biography of Speaker

Neil Armitage holds BSc (Eng), MSc(Eng) and PhD degrees from the Universities of Natal, Cape Town and Stellenbosch respectively. He is a professional engineer, registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), with more than 33 years’ experience – both as a consultant and an academic – in a wide range of water-related engineering.

He has been employed by UCT since 1995, initially as Senior Lecturer, then from 2005 as an Associate Professor, and finally from 2015 as a Professor in the Civil Engineering Department. He served as Deputy Dean (Undergraduate Affairs) in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment 2011-12 and as Head of the Department of Civil Engineering 2012-17. He co-founded the ‘Future Water’ research institute in 2015 which he currently serves as Deputy Director. He has authored or co-authored some 100 publications and supervised 19 masters’ students and three PhD students to graduation. Inter alia, he was responsible for the development of the South African Guidelines on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD). In 2013 he received the Water Research Commission of South Africa’s Award for Human Capital Development in the Water and Science Sectors.