CapeTalk

Southern Waters

Biography

Water is the key to life and one of the most important resources in the world, which is why, says Catherine Brown, the work done by Southern Waters Ecological Research and Consulting is so important – it directly affects people’s lives. She points out that more than three quarters of the world’s nations have shared river basins within their boundaries, which is one reason water is already a major cause of global tension. For these reasons, her company’s product falls squarely into the ‘sustainable future’ space. “Southern Waters consults on all aspects of environmental flows, utilising a tool called DRIFT, which predicts how water-resource plans impact water ecosystems and linked social and economic structures. This enables informed and transparent decisions to be taken about development issues,” says Catherine. DRIFT, which was developed as a tool to assist with deciding on the environmental flow releases from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in 1998, addresses situations where information is needed to make decisions in a trans-boundary setting. Catherine adds that this is a very technical job, which is why she brings a PhD in freshwater ecology to the table, while other staff members have PhDs in math statistics and botany. “Ultimately, we want to make DRIFT the software of choice for river-basin planning worldwide. Obviously, DRIFT is a specialist tool, so we also plan to create a training division, to teach people how to use it, so they can apply it independently. In addition, we hope in future to expand the use and influence of the tool, so that it can be used in identifying viable options for sustainable development, and for our company to take on an advisory role in major projects.”

On-air Interview