This paper describes the development and implementation of an Integrated Water Management Strategy for the catchment of the Wilderness Lakes in the Southern Cape, South Africa. The area is a popular tourist destination due to its environmental variety and scenic beauty.
The main land uses in the catchment are: agriculture, forestry, tourism, residential settlement and the natural environment. These land uses compete for a share of the available water resources and have different water quality demands, while at the same time each has an impact on the water quality and quantity and also on other land uses. The water management strategy developed for Wilderness aimed at the responsible management and fair distribution of the available water resources (both quantity and quality) and on the sustainable use of these resources, taking full cognisance of the wishes and opinions of all interest groups in the area. The natural environment played a very important role in the development of the strategy and it was found that a more natural management of the estuary mouth would assist in maintaining the natural characteristics of the Wilderness system. The paper also addresses the structures and management body proposed to implement the Water Management Strategy.