Murdoch University experts advise Cape Town government on water crisis

March 1, 2018

Head of Office, Ministry of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (Cape Town) Marius du Randt with Professor Wendell Ela, Murdoch University Associate Dean International, School of Engineering and IT.

Murdoch University environment and water experts have met with delegates of the Western Cape Provincial Government on campus to discuss how to manage the current water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town anticipates having to shut down the city’s water supply system by early July, when water taps within the city are expected to run dry as a consequence of years of low rainfall. The date of this occurrence is being referred to as “Day Zero".

During a recent visit to the drought-stricken city, water expert – Professor Wendell Ela, of Murdoch University, offered to lend his experience in researching and developing water shortage solutions to the Cape Town provincial government.

“Through ongoing discussion and knowledge-sharing, there is an opportunity for our researchers at Murdoch University to work collaboratively with the Cape Town provincial government and South African water experts to develop and implement a sustainable solution to this issue,” Professor Ela said.

“In turn, once a viable solution has been found, we hope to learn more about how to develop future solutions to the worldwide problem of water scarcity.

"The regular exchange of information between nations on this issue is vitally important to ensuring we don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time this happens somewhere in the world.”

On Tuesday 27 February, the delegates met with Professor David Morrison, Murdoch Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, and Professor Ela on campus.

They were joined by Murdoch University colleagues, Doctors Martin Anda, Ralf Cord-Ruwisch, and Stewart Dallas, to discuss sustainable water consumption and technological advancements in the management and treatment of salt water and wastewater as potential strategies.

In addition, two PhD students from the Murdoch School of Engineering & IT, Ivonne Tshuma and Vishnu Ravisankar, presented on their research to date, which explored two different approaches to energy-efficient desalination.

Head of Office of the Western Cape Provincial Ministry of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Marius du Randt said promoting best practices in the city of Cape Town, and more broadly in the Western Cape Province in terms of drought response, water conservation and climate resilience, would be essential to resolving the city’s current water crisis and ensuring that the City becomes more resilient in future.

“We truly appreciate the opportunity to come to Perth and learn more about the steps that have been taken to encourage awareness of water conservation amongst the population here, and we look forward to communicating these lessons more broadly when we return home,” Mr du Randt said.

The delegates will continue their Australian tour, visiting Sydney then Melbourne to meet with other water management experts and policymakers throughout the country, to learn more about our nation’s experiences in managing large-scale drought and water shortage events.

Left to Right: Gerhard Gerber, Wilna Kloppers, Wendell Ela, Marius du Randt and Vishnu Ravisankar discuss possible solutions to Cape Town's water shortage crisis.

Media enquiries: Paige Berdal 9360 6742 /

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