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AWS helps boost water availability in Cape Town

AMAZON Web Services (AWS), which recently announced it will launch its online shopping service in SA next year, is to renew a strategic investment in a watershed restoration project in partnership with the Greater Cape Town Water Fund (GCTWF), led by The Nature Conservancy, towards water sustainability in the region.

The GCTWF has been working towards creating a healthier, more water-secure future for the Cape Town region since 2018. The AWS-backed initiative has impacted Cape Town by applying a nature-based solution to droughts affecting nearby communities, with these works set to continue until 2030.

The Fund enables watershed restoration activities that remove thirsty invasive plants from the main catchments that supply Cape Town’s water. On the outskirts of the city, invasive non-native trees such as pines have been soaking up 55 billion litres of water a year, and threatening one of the world’s rarest habitat types, the Cape Floristic Region.

Taking a nature-based approach to some of the worst recorded droughts in South Africa, the GCTWF brought in specialist local teams to remove these invasive pines from 130,000 acres. This work is now actively conserving native vegetation, reducing the severity of wildfires, and increasing the volume of water flowing into the city’s depleted reservoirs.

“The Greater Cape Town Water Fund stands as a testament to the power of nature-based solutions and the power of partnership,” said Louise Stafford, TNC’s South Africa Country Director. 

Already nearly 15.2 billion litres of water are being released back into the Greater Cape Town region every year as a direct result of the GCTWF’s activity, and this figure is projected to grow as work continues until 2030.

Water security is a major concern for the City of Cape Town, which came close to reaching “day zero” in residential areas in 2018. Cape Town’s population is growing fast. With climate models showing decreased rainfall coupled with increased temperatures in the future, nature-based interventions are now an essential and proven step to take in order to ensure the City’s residents can continue to readily access water.

Support for this project is part of AWS’ wider water-positive commitment to return more water to communities than it uses in its direct operations by 2030. AWS will meet this commitment through four key strategies: water efficiency, sustainable sources, community water reuse, and water replenishment.

 “The partnership between AWS and The GCTWF marks another significant step in AWS’ ongoing commitment to achieving our water-positive objectives, and our first contribution to improve water security for the City of Cape Town,” said Will Hewes, Global Lead, Water Sustainability at AWS.

With water scarcity becoming a growing environmental concern worldwide, AWS also supports projects in Brazil, India, the US and the UK, providing nearly 2.4 billion litres of water each year to the communities where AWS operates with much more to come as AWS continues toward the 2030 goal.

The City of Cape Town has integrated nature-based solutions into its municipal water strategy as a result of the success of the GCTWF project. Over the next two years, the Greater Cape Town Water Fund will transition towards its goal of becoming an independent, locally-led entity.

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