Events / Water Exchange Speaker Series

Water Exchange Speaker Series

January 28, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


About this Event

South Africa’s second most populous city, Cape Town recently almost ran out of water in the infamous “day zero” due to the combination of an ever growing demand, a supply reliant solely on rainwater and a one in 600 year drought. Day zero, initially predicted to come on April 12, 2018, would have seen the city of 4 million people with water taps shut off after a devastating three-year drought that nearly depleted the region’s entire dam storage. Cape Town has realized that this reliance on rainwater, with the threat of climate change and likely future supply constraints, is a major vulnerability to providing sufficient water to its residents. As a result, the city recently released a Water Strategy that puts forward a plan to become “water resilient” along with a number of other reforms to improve water and sanitation services. Michael Webster, head of Cape Town’s water department will present this plan and the way forward to a water secure future for Cape Town Water.


About the Speaker

Mike Webster is the Executive Director of the Water and Waste Directorate in the City of Cape Town. In this position he is accountable for the Water and Sanitation Department of the municipality that is responsible for the full water cycle from “source to tap” and back to the environment. The department serves the 4 million people of Cape Town through 660,000 connections and 20,000 km of pipeline. The department has a staff of over 4,800, an annual operating budget of USD 420 million (equivalent) and an annual capital budget of around USD 180 million equivalent.


Prior to joining the City of Cape Town in 2018, Mike worked for the World Bank for 16 years as a water and sanitation specialist based in Washington DC. He joined the Bank through the Young Professionals Programme and worked in operations in over 24 countries in South Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa with field assignments in Delhi and Harare. Mike was Task Team Leader for over 20 investment operations in water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, municipal services, rural infrastructure, environmental protection and urban upgrading.


Mike graduated as a civil engineer from the University of Cape Town in 1990 and went on to do an MSc in engineering at Loughborough University and a Master’s in Public Policy at Princeton University.