Water Resources

Safe drinking water is needed for a healthy population.  Furthermore, access to water resources is needed for economic development.  The International Covenant on Human Rights has declared potable water as a human right, which was clarified in General Comment no. 15.  The right to water is recognized by section 27 (1)(b) of the South African Constitution and South Africa has defined concrete minimum standards for safe drinking water in the Water Services Act 108 of 1997, and in regulations passed under the terms of this Act.

Video of the sediment-rich wet season flow past the intake for the local water treatment facility.  The sediments may cause a treatment challenge as well as maintenance issues.

This work investigates the extent of the realization or non-realization of the right to water in a rural region of South Africa and its implications for the provision of water in South Africa and beyond.  Despite constitutional obligations to provide safe water, accessibility and quality of water remain problematic in South African rural communities.  Previous and current studies conducted in the Mutale River basin demonstrate that, in spite of existing infrastructure, water supply is unpredictably intermittent, which does not satisfy the required levels of access. The research also indicates that the water quality does not at all times adhere to the prescribed South African minimum standards, nor the recommended guidelines set by the World Health Organization for safe drinking water.

Through a partnership with University of Venda in Limpopo, South Africa, the research team has setup a weather station and a stream gage in the upper Mutale River watershed.  Data will be made available shortly through Mendeley Data.
Drs. Kahler (left) and Edokpayi (right) in front of a weather station set up at a primary school in Limpopo, South Africa.  Data from the station will support research in the region and STEM outreach at the school.