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Rhodes > Faculty of Science > Research - Old > Water Research

Ecotoxicology (UCEWQ) and Water Quality (UCEWQ)

The Institute for Water Research has expertise in several areas within the broad field of water resource science, including hydrology, integrated water resource management, freshwater ecology, water quality and toxicology, biomonitoring, the management of water services and community education. The combination of research and practical problem solving within the IWR allows recently developed research methods to be rapidly deployed for water resource planning and management. Within the field of ecology, the Institute has focused on understanding the processes and requirements of aquatic ecosystems and the effects of flow variability. Much of the work has been directed at assessing the environmental water quantity and quality requirements of rivers, an important component of the 'Reserve' determination process designed to ensure the sustainable use of water resources under the national Water Act of 1998.

The Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality (UCEWQ) focuses on ecotoxicology, biomonitoring and water chemistry. Ecotoxicology at the IWR concentrates on determining the tolerances of indigenous riverine macroinvertebrates and algae, under controlled laboratory conditions, to selected water quality variables and complex effluents. Ecotoxicolgy is included in an integrated approach to assessing the water quality of a water resource and is being practically applied to evaluate the effects of industrial effluents on rivers. UCEWQ is actively involved in the development of policies and strategies for improving the quality of the nation's freshwater resources.

While the list below identifies the main research themes and subject disciplines, it should be emphasized that the IWR and UCEWQ encourage inter-disciplinary approaches as far as possible.

Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality

Our principal focus is the use of indigenous riverine biota in aquatic ecotoxicology applied within the implementation of the National Water Act (No 36 of 1998) which provides for water resource management through Resource directed measures (e.g. the ecological Reserve, and aquatic ecosystem guidelines) and Source directed controls (e.g. effluent standards, and effluent discharge licenses

Specific research being undertaken supporting the above includes:

  • The application of biochemical markers (stress proteins, acetylcholinesterase, lipid peroxidation and DNA strand breakage) to the development of water quality guidelines
  • The development of indigenous algae toxicity tests
  • Refining the use of diatom biomonitoring for the heavy mineral mining industry
  • Investigating the use of microbial biomonitoring as an indicator of anthropogenic pollution
  • Investigating endocrine disruption in local aquatic macroinvertebrates
  • Assessing suitable toxicity tests for application in DEEEP methodology (direct toxicity assessment of effluents)
  • Linking bioremediation of effluent discharges to water resources management
  • Investigating physiological responses to stress such as osmolality, respiration, growth and reproduction
  • Investigating the link between water quality and quantity


Last Modified: Thu, 09 May 2013 15:17:43 SAST