My preparations for a trip to Cape Town to participate in an academic workshop discussing research on acid mine drainage got me thinking about SA’s water problems as a whole and what we should be focusing on to solve the country’s multiple water-related crises. SA’s problems — and Cape Town’s in particular — are not unique. We are not the only country in the world that struggles with high water demand and scarcity. In 1997, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia had a population of 3.1-million people. By 2016 the population had more than doubled to 6.5-million. The city receives annual rainfall of about 100mm. By comparison, the Cape Town metropolitan region is home to about 4-million people and receives an average annual rainfall of 500mm. When you look at the rainfall data for Cape Town over the past four years a clear trend emerges. In 2014, the city got 511mm of rain. In 2015 this went down to 321mm and this trend continued year after year, to 221mm in 2016 and 153mm in 2017. Even at its lowest...

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