The Institute for Water Research

Incorporating the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality (UCEWQ)

The Institute for Water Research (IWR) is a multi-disciplinary group that contributes to the understanding and sustainable management of water resources in southern Africa. These objectives are achieved through fundamental and applied research into the structure, function and components of natural water systems and the dissemination of research results. Consulting services are offered to solve specific problems through the application of research developments. The IWR contributes to teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as offering professional training courses and other capacity building initiatives. Specifically, postgraduate students can register in the Institute for MSc and PhD degrees (by thesis) in both Hydrology and Water Resource Science. Staff members of the IWR serve on various research, management and policy making committees both within South Africa and overseas. The staff of the Institute actively collaborate with other departments and institutes at Rhodes University including the departments of Geography, Zoology and Entomology, Environmental Science, Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and the Albany Museum. The Institute also cooperates with other universities, state departments and private consulting companies, both in South Africa and internationally.

The Institute 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.

This research has been supported by the IWR's long history (over 30 years) of research into the development and application of methods for analysing and modelling hydrological information for various water resource planning and management purposes. The focus has been on combining a sound understanding of hydrological processes with the development of practical simulation tools. This has included the development of computer software designed to facilitate access to hydrological information and the integration of modelling and data visualisation tools with databases.

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.

The Institute has also been involved in community water issues, including local government responsibilities for integrated water resource management and issues associated with the delivery of water and wastewater services. Part of this process has included community engagement and education.

The IWR is largely self-funded and managed through a Board of Control, made up of representatives of Rhodes University, private, government and other university groups who have an interest in water resources. It derives part of its income from research contracts with agencies such as the Water Research Commission, as well as from international research support organisations (e.g. Unilever and the Carnegie Foundation). The majority of the remaining income base is from shorter term consultancy projects through partnerships with consulting companies.

Last Modified: Wed, 02 Sep 2015 09:43:39 SAST