Collaborative development and decision-support
AWARD focuses on the collaborative development and testing of protocols for responsiveness and action as part of an Integrated Water Resource Decision-Support (InWaRDS) system for compliance and early warning. Monitoring needs to be embedded in a responsive system that is linked to action and change. An example of this has been efforts to ensure continued flows in the lower Olifants during the drought of 2016.
An example of co-operative governance: securing environmental flows in the lower Olifants
In response to the crippling drought and non-compliance with environmental water requirements in the lower Olifants since 2016, and in support of good adaptive governance, we have worked on securing a shift of water use from the Blyde to the De Hoop Dam to augment flows in the lower Olifants. If the Blyde dam drops below 25%, water cannot be abstracted, placing 10000 permanent and seasonal jobs at risk.
A major success for RESILIM-O has been the partnership between AWARD, SANParks, Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and other partners which led to a release of water from the De Hoop Dam for the first time on 23 September 2016. AWARD has been given the responsibility of monitoring the flows and running our RESILIM-O De Hoop-Blyde release model when necessary to recommend further releases until we are out of the emergency state. Releases were made in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, resulting in the Environmental Water Requirement (EWR) being met at Kruger National Park’s EWR site, Mamba Weir — a major success in a time of drought!
A suite of integrated water resource decision-support dashboards are being developed to guide water resource managers in making short- and long-term strategic adaptive operational decisions. Both the tools and training have been trialled in the Olifants River Catchment during 2017. A mobile app (Flow Tracker) and a desktop dashboard have been developed – a first for the region and country!
FlowTracker mobile app
The FlowTracker mobile app tracks river flow and dam levels in real time and gives rainfall forecasts. This allows the user to track flows against the Reserve (Environmental Water Requirements). The public version of the Flow Tracker mobile application was launched in March 2017. Available at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=flowtracker.award.org.za.flowtracker&hl=en. Discover more by downloading our FlowTracker informational brochure, click here.
The dashboard boasts the capabilities of a rapid overview of EWR flow compliance, rapid dam level assessment, flow gauge time series compliance analysis for historical and near-real-time data, and a water quality assessment tool.
Real-time data loggers
AWARD has installed data loggers for flow and water quality at key sites in the Selati and lower Olifants River. This is because data needs to be verified in real time but, as has been noted nation-wide, the gauges often malfunction due to operation and maintenance challenges.
With support from USAID, and collaboration with the Department of Water and Sanitation and SANParks, data loggers have been installed at the following sites:
- Liverpool Weir (B7H009; Olifants mainstem, escarpment foothills)
- Oxford Weir (B7H007, Olifants mainstem)
- Balule Weir (B7H026; KNP before Mozambique border)
- Mamba Weir (B7H015, KNP below Olifants-Selati confluence) as well as a water quality gauge
AWARD also supports DWS and SanParks in monitoring river flows. For example, we visit Oxford Bridge (B7H007) along the Phalaborwa-Hoedspruit road to take water levels at weekly intervals to support DWS hydrology staff in Pretoria.