An adaptive operational water resources management framework for the Crocodile River catchment, South Africa.
River catchments are complex STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political) systems requiring an integrated and adaptive approach to their water resources management with input from diverse stakeholders to generate a shared understanding of the system, and to engage in consensus-driven decision making and cooperative action towards shared objectives. Furthermore, semi-arid run-of-river dominated and closing river catchments are particularly susceptible to degradation and the current institutional arrangements for integrated water resource management are not generally able to adequately deal with issues of river catchment closure. Nor do they appear to effectively integrate both the technical and social-ecological aspects of integrated water resources management. This research thesis aims to investigate, analyse, develop, implement and evaluate an adaptive operational water resources management framework for the semi-arid run-of-river dominated and closing Crocodile River catchment through a collaborative and participatory action research approach which acknowledges the dual learning pathways of science and management, and that allows for researchers, managers and stakeholders to engage in consensus-driven decision making and cooperative action for effective operational water resources management. The research further aims to evaluate whether the framework developed can enable effective operational water resources management and so test the hypotheses that strategic adaptive management can be effectively used to conduct functional and effective operational water resources management in complex semi-arid run-of-river dominated and closing river catchments.