The WRC inaugurates ‘Water Resources of South Africa 2012 Study’
South Africa has been categorised as a water-scarce country; however, the degree of scarcity has been the subject of research by hydrologists, in an attempt to quantify and understand the relationships between rainfall and streamflow as well as between rainfall and groundwater recharge. Over the last 30 years the Water Research Commission (WRC) has commissioned numerous hydrological investigations. Of note in relation to the above, three major national surveys of South Africa’s national water resources, i.e. ‘Surface Water Resources of South Africa’ in 1980 was updated in 1990 (WR90), and lastly followed by the ‘Water Resources of South Africa’ in 2005 (WR2005) which was completed and launched jointly by the Water Research Commission and the Department of Water Affairs in September 2009.
Mr Wandile Nomquphu, WRC Research Manager, says, “These studies provide the cornerstone of baseline national water resources assessment and planning for South Africa as required in the National Water Act and the National Water Resource Strategy. Each study has been roughly conducted every 10th year, and this 10-year gap between assessments is too long in a water-stressed country, with accelerated demands, in which rainfall is highly variable with real threats of climate change impacts”.
To bridge this gap, the WRC is commissioning a four-year integrated ‘Water Resources of South Africa 2012’ study (also known as WR2012 Study) which is scheduled to commence on 1 April 2012. The main purpose of the study is to update the WR2005 System by including groundwater and certain aspects of water quality into the assessment. It will also aim to create a web-based and interactive reporting system to continually quantify both surface and groundwater resources of South Africa. Such a system will be essential in the continuous update of the National Water Resource Strategy.
Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, WRC CEO, says, “The outputs from this study will serve as inputs to the water resource planning models of the Department of Water Affairs, as has been the case with the outputs from previous studies and hopefully will act as the basis for the National Water Resources.
“With steeply declining operational (active) rain gauges and streamflow gauges, gaps in data and gaps in understanding our water resources are increasing the uncertainty in decision-making about the country’s water resources’’ adds Nomquphu. “Therefore the WR2012 Study will recommend the minimum monitoring requirements that the country cannot do without in order to understand and effectively manage its water resources”.
Mr Allan Bailey, of Stuart Scott International (SSI), and project leader for the consortium that will update the study says, “As there are numerous large water resource studies required for the Department of Water Affairs and other clients, it is essential that users have a comprehensive, up to date and reliable database of water resources data and information”. Bailey further says “We feel that we have achieved this with the WR2005 study but we need to continually provide new, updated and enhanced water resources data and information as well as tools to access it. WR2012 will greatly enhance the system that we have already developed”.
Mr Mbangiseni Nepfumbada, Acting Deputy Director General for Policy and Regulations at Water Affairs says, “ We are taking the issue of water resources very seriously and also the issue of data is very critical for the Department of Water Affairs with the Water Resources Strategy now being revised’’.
As part of the National Water Week Celebrations the WRC hosted a seminar with renowned international and local hydrologists, sharing key messages on the 6th March, 2012 at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park. The focus of the seminar was on the future direction of hydrological research and the inauguration of the new WR2012 study.
Contact: Mr Wandile Nomquphu ,Research Manager Water Resource Assessment and Planning, Tel: 012 330 0340 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org