This paper examines the trialogue model for governance of groundwater in Cape Town, a developing urban environment. Government processes such as legislation and level of implementation are examined. Social processes were assessed in a household survey. These included common practice in using groundwater, motivating factors or drivers, understanding of the resource and trust in government structures. A review of the scientific understanding of groundwater resources in the city is given. Government in South Africa's fledgling democracy is in a state of transformation, with responsible institutions focused on their internal organisation and less on their ability to integrate with each other and positively impact resources and society. The social views of groundwater lag behind the formal policy of a public resource, and are tied more closely to land ownership. Science has informed groundwater development in the past, but explicit uncertainty in predictions and lack of an engineering approach has limited the use of groundwater for bulk supply. Private use, however, is widespread in the middle and high income areas and increasing as water tariffs have been increased to improve water demand management (WDM). Society's impacts on groundwater currently result from indirect drivers such as WDM. The trialogue model is a useful framework within which social drivers and impacts can be mapped. However, this occurs within the broader context of society supported by natural resources and we propose a model which includes the resource base and its feedback, and governance elements of formal government, the market and the knowledge base (including science).

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