IWC Africa Node welcomes its first Masters students
Karin Breytenbach has a background in Geography, Liezl Craig is a Landscape Architect and Rangarirai Gova has a background in Environmental Science and comes to us from Zimbabwe.
During the first week of the course students were taken on a two-day fieldtrip, “The field trip was the official introduction to our Masters programme," said Ms Breytenbach, "and to me answered a lot of questions about water which I initially did not know and did not even think of. We saw some very good examples of bad management as well as good management where drinking water is guaranteed for 70 years.”
The first day took students on a journey of tracking Johannesburg’s drinking water from its source in Lesotho, through inter-basin transfer schemes, into the Vaal Dam and into Johannesburg’s water treatment facility, Rand Water. "I particularly enjoyed the boat trip," said Ms Craig. “It gave us an opportunity to speak to the people from Rand Water responsible for the different catchments on a one-to-one basis. They gave valuable insights on the challenges they experience with their specific catchment management.”
Liezl Craig, Masters student
The second day took students to the Crocodile Marico Catchment where they met and interacted with two local aquatic specialists, Hermien Roux and Piet Muller. “I particularly enjoyed the communication method where a map of the different rivers was drawn in the sand of the river bank,” said Ms Craig.
Bio-monitoring is a key part of water quality monitoring in South African Rivers. Mr Roux introduced the students to the SASS 5 score as a measure of quality. "By sweeping the river with nets and then examining the samples collected, we were able to identify species and based on this use the SASS 5 scorecard to determine what that species was and what it was an indicator for," said Mr Gova.
Student feedback from the trip
Ms Craig: “I had a shock revelation about the state of our water resources and an insight into the challenges of managing water in South Africa within the different contexts: social, political, ecological as well as their inter-connectedness.”
Ms Breytenbach: “I learned that the problems surrounding South Africa’s water situation are very serious and do not originate from a single source, but are a combination of various factors that are extremely complex.”
Mr Gova: “The fieldtrip was enlightening, especially on water issues, and it brought the issue of complexity that exists in water management to the fore. The South African water situation could become critical if water imports were to be stopped from the Katze Dam in Lesotho.”