The dynamics of a hydrosocial relationship. a case study of the Pinetown/New Germany industrial complex and the Palmiet River.
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This study sought to explore the relationship between Industry located in the Pinetown/ New Germany Industrial complex and the Palmiet River. The objective of the study was to explore industry attitudes and perceptions towards water by studying the relationship between businesses located in the New Germany Industrial Complex and the Palmiet River, as well as external actors, processes and practices that regulate and govern this relationship. The hydrosocial cycle was used as the theoretical framework to guide this study as it better provided a space for a critical analysis of water and society; centring water to better understand the production of social power (Wittfogel 1957; Swyngedouw 1999; Linton 2010, Linton and Budds, 2013). Qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews were utilized to gain insight from various stakeholders mainly; industry, the municipality and civil society. This study revealed the intricate and structural internal connections between water and society. Which challenged the notion of a one-dimensional didactic relationship, rather it highlights how these two entities shape and remake each other continuously. Through this internal connection, they embody influences from various external actors, processes and practices, which change the context as well as the nature of this relationship. In its location at an industrial complex, the Palmiet River has enhanced, altered and fostered new relationships amongst and between stakeholders, with ecological infrastructure and climate change playing a significant role in connecting and facilitating these relationships. Broadly, the findings of the study found that the river can be understood as an integrator; it blurs the line between the formal and informal. It enmeshes the formal public spaces with the informal invisible spaces. True to the cyclical nature of water it connects the dominant socio-economic challenges back to the municipality and the state.