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Non-Perennial Rivers Research Programme

15th Biennial Groundwater Conference The Groundwater Division of the Geological Society of South Africa hosted the 5th biennial Groundwater Conference at Spier in Stellenbosch from 16-18 October 2017 .15th Biennial Groundwater Conference The Groundwater Division of the Geological Society of South Africa hosted the 5th biennial Groundwater Conference at Spier in Stellenbosch from 16-18 October 2017 .15th Biennial Groundwater Conference The Groundwater Division of the Geological Society of South Africa hosted the 5th biennial Groundwater Conference at Spier in Stellenbosch from 16-18 October 2017 .
Overview
Objectives
Lead Researchers
Student Researchers
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    • ​Project Overview

      There is inadequate knowledge about the linkages between spatial and temporal variability of non-perennial rivers, the integrity of these ecosystems, and human well-being. These rivers dominate most parts of the southern Africa which is largely semi-arid to arid. Modifications of non-perennial river flows by impoundments and flow abstractions for various purposes has led to degradation of these river systems. Lack of adequate knowledge about the social, cultural and economic values of services derived from these ecosystems results in very little effort being made to sustainably manage them. Impoundments and flow diversions continue to be developed without adequately providing for environmental flows. Attempts to allocate water for non-perennial rivers have generally not led to the achievement of sustainable management of river systems, because the methods used are not appropriate for these systems.  Water resources managers thus have difficulties in enforcing the provision of environmental flows for non-perennial rivers, since the methods used have low levels of confidence and can be challenged by prospective applicants for licences to impound or divert river water.  The continued lack of provision for environmental flows increases poverty for those communities depending on ecosystems that are being degraded due to river flow modifications.​ 

    • ​The overall aim of the project is to improve:

    • ​Understanding of the relationships between river flow,, ecosystem characteristics and services provided by non-perennial rivers, and

    • Prediction, decision making and management related to the ecological and social consequences of flow modifications of non-perennial rivers.

    • ​The following are the objectives of the project:

    • ​To determine the nature of the spatial and temporal variability non-perennial river flows and factors accounting for these variations.

    • To establish how interactions between surface water and groundwater affect the quantity and quality of non-perennial river flows in different physiographic settings.

    • ​To examine how landforms and land-forming processes at catchment and channel scales determine the types of physical habitats occurring along non-perennial rivers.

    • ​To identify the factors influencing spatial and temporal variations of the physiochemical characteristics of water in non-perennial rivers, and how these characteristics affect ecosystems and human uses of these rivers.

    • To establish how the spatial and temporal variations of non-perennial river flows influence the composition, distribution and abundance of riparian plants, and their uses by local people.

    • ​To examine factors influencing the composition, abundance and dynamics of riverine fauna of non-perennial rivers or terrestrial fauna dependent upon them, and their uses by local people.

    • ​To identify and evaluate the contributions of river flows and ecosystems along non-perennial rivers to human well-being

    • Research Students

    • First Name & Surname » Project » Degree

    • Adeola, Adeneye » Water quality » PhD

    • Errol, Malinjane » Water quality » MSc

    • Curtis, Grootboom » Geomorphology » MSc

    • Keaton, Hattingh » Geomorphology » MSc

    • Nomanesi, Makhonco » Geomorphology » MSc

    • Vincent, Banda » Geohydrology » MSc

    • Phumlani, Mnqondeki » Geohydrology » MSc

    • Raven, Pietersen » Geohydrology » MSc

    • Bernard, Schacht » Hydrology » MSc

    • Dylan, Seaton » Hydrology » MSc

    • Locations of the study sites in South Africa and the Western Cape, and Northern Cape Provinces

      Locations of Study Sites Locations of Study Sites
      The study is being undertaken on the following five catchments
    • Verlorenveli River is located along west coast of South Africa with a freshwater lake connected to the sea at the distal end, and highly impacted by groundwater use for potato production, and rainfed grain production.

    • Tankwa River is located in a very arid part and covers most of the Tankwa-Karoo National Park proclaimed in 1986. This area has the succulent karoo ecosystem considered to be one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. A plan for restoration of natural vegetation in the park is being implemented. However, the potential effects of some of the proposed restoration measures on river health are unknown. Globally, there is limited knowledge about ecologically sound management measures of river flow modifications in such very arid areas.

    • Touws River occurs within the Western Cape Province, in the region referred to as the Klein Karoo with fynbos, succulent karoo, and thickets as the major biomes. Rainfall is spatially highly variable with the mountain parts receiving up to 1000 mm/yr while the western part has very low rainfall, typically 100 mm/yr. This non-perennial river has some very interesting pools that are frequently not connected by river flows. The importance of these pools to supporting aquatic fauna, and livelihoods needs to be established. Extreme large floods that modify channel processes do occasionally occur. The influence of fluvial geomorphological processes on physical habitats is largely unknown.

    • Heuningnes Catchment is located on the southern-most part of Africa in the Cape Agulhas and has numerous riparian floodplain wetlands, and temporary and permanent ponds.

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COLLABORATING PARTNERS

 
     

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South African Environmental Observation Network of the National Research Foundation
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