Implications of land use practices and socio-hydrological vulnerability within a rapidly developing city: a case study of the Umhlatuzana River, Ethekwini, South Africa.
Webster, Candice Natasha.
MetadataShow full item record
Anthropogenic actions affect land uses and land use change concomitantly influencing water quality in a catchment. In a catchment varying levels of income and access to infrastructure and resources result in a lack of access to reliable and clean water, forcing households to rely on nearby water sources such as rivers, dams or lakes to meet their basic needs. Utilisation of river water is influenced by the perception of water quality. The main aim of this study is to explore how land use practices and human-water interactions influence socio-hydrological vulnerability within the Umhlatuzana catchment in a rapidly developing city. Previous research has not focused on the water quality and vulnerability of households within South African catchments. Land use activities and land use changes were observed between 2003 and 2014 to examine the pressures on water and water quality in the catchment. Furthermore, selected water quality parameters were analysed for an 11-year period between 2004 and 2014 in order to examine temporal and spatial variation to unpack influences on vulnerability in the catchment. Moreover, 350 household surveys were administered in order to describe the community perception of land use, land use change and water quality in the catchment. Finally, field observations of areas surrounding the water sampling sites were completed to inform results, and provide a more nuanced understanding of data trends, community perceptions, and experiences with the river. Analysis of the spatial data indicates changes in the catchment that may contribute to the deteriorating water quality in the river. Furthermore, reports of malfunctioning Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) link the sewage system to increasing E. coli and T. coli levels in the river, which threatens the health and well-being of all river users. The households in the community are diverse with varying levels of vulnerability and access to resources as many households identified government grants as a source of income. Additionally, although most households perceived the river water in the catchment to be poor and deteriorating, of those that utilised the river water, majority did not treat it before use. The study demonstrates that there are households within the catchment that are vulnerable and at risk to the deteriorating river water in the catchment. Further research is required to identify sources of pollution to improve the water of the Umhlatuzana River and reduce risks to the community in the catchment.