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Author: Dr. Leanne Seeliger
Published: 09/10/2018

​The Philippi Horticultural Area represents a test case for the ethics of water governance in South Africa. The diversity of government role-players with their divergent interpretations of the legislation; the differing opinions of the farmers on the issues at hand and the number of scientific studies that have been conducted by various academic institutions and disciplines over a long period of time, make it a rich and complex ethical issue. Tensions among stakeholders in the Philippi Horticultural Area around numerous issues, including water are currently high. This area produces almost half of Cape Town's fresh produce and gives work to thousands of farm workers. The water for the Philippi Horticultural Area is supplied by an underground water aquifer. Large amounts of water are extracted from the Cape Flats Aquifer. Access to the water has not been effectively monitored and little has been done to address pollution by authorities. Water governance in the area is becoming increasingly contested following plans by the City of Cape Town to allow two developers to start large scale development in the area, and with the decision to use water from the aquifer for drought augmentation purposes. This research project, funded by the Water Research Commission, is innovative in terms of water governance, because it is the first time that an ethics methodology is explicitly being applied to an existing water governance dilemma in South Africa that is currently underway. It goes beyond a desktop analysis and attempts to demonstrate the impact that ethical dialogue can make in a contested case study.​