The need for better and improved water resources management has been echoed time and again worldwide. In South Africa, where water has been identified as a scarce resource and a limiting factor for development, the situation is even more critical. To address this problem, management of water on an integrated catchment basis has been applied to various catchments in the country. The development and implementation of this approach offered managers unique learning experiences. They had to content with complex water resource problems as well as with economic and political difficulties. On the one hand it was a very exciting and challenging experience, on the other hand success was limited and in many cases the results were disappointing.

In this paper, the approaches adopted and the experiences gained in the execution of more than twenty major catchment management projects, as well as various issues impacting on the outcome of the projects, are highlighted. It is important to realise that this approachs is in a development phase and still requires time and energy to become a meaningful management practice.