Letter from Umvoto’s Managing Director
2022 – A year of anniversaries and endurance
Thinking about this year, it is easy to focus on the many challenges we faced in 2022, but for us it was a year of anniversaries.
We started the year with acknowledging the 30-year anniversary of the company, which was founded by Rowena in 1992 – out of her dining room and garage. We have come a long way since then.
This anniversary reminded me that I am now officially employed in the company for 20 years (I was an intern in 2001 and then employed in 2002). It shows that you can make a career by sticking around when you are willing to continuously learn. Dylan celebrated 15 years in the company, while some other staff have completed 5 years with us.
My first project as an intern and then as staff member was the groundwater development in Hermanus, work that started 20 years ago and led to Hermanus being drought resilient. This work is still going strong with new developments. The City of Cape Town Table Mountain Group Aquifer (CCT TMGA) project was initiated by Rowena, Chris and partners from Ninham Shand (now Zutari) in 2002, another 20-year project milestone. The current City projects commenced during the drought in 2017 – that is 5 years of exciting work and being at the forefront of providing solutions towards a drought-proven and water sensitive City.
Another interesting anniversary will come up in February – 15 years of uninterrupted certification of our Quality Management System in terms of ISO 9001. We just passed the regular re-certification audit in August this year.
All these anniversaries reminded me also on the sad anniversary we acknowledged in July this year – one year after the passing of Rowena and Chris, which led to the appointment of new directors late last year (another anniversary).
The new management team that got to work last year were busy and hard at work this year to get us out of the dip we experienced in the transition period late last year. Notably we restructured the company to become more efficient and being responsive to the market needs. With that we consolidated the business outlook and started another exciting growth period with new projects and breaking into new markets for the company.
Enjoy reading about these different initiatives and activities below. Have a safe break and looking forward to continuing the journey of Umvoto together next year.
Umvoto has enjoyed another successful year; continuing existing projects, starting new and exciting partnerships and projects, building new relationships, experiencing the joys of nature through the various forms of field work undertaken and even finding some time to relax, have a laugh and soak it all in. The end-of-year staff function for 2021 was postponed to February 2022 (due to COVID-19), and a competitive day of bare-foot bowls set the tone for an exciting year ahead.
This year Umvoto visited the Cape Fur Seal colony off the coast of Hout Bay and indulged in a festive beach-side lunch at a nearby restaurant.
WELCOME & GOODBYE
Umvoto welcomes two new staff members to the team: Annalisa Vicente , Hydrogeologist and Groundwater Modeller, and Gordon Harding as a Junior Geologist. The 2022 internship programme started in June with three new interns joining Umvoto for six months. Welcome Asisipho Ernest, Shaakirah Adams, and Warrick Daws!
Umvoto also welcomed two students, Mankgadi Mamogobo and Seemole Shika, who spent a week in November work shadowing some of Umvoto’s staff to gain a better understanding of what a geoscientist does. This was sponsored by The Umvoto Foundation (TUF).
Sadly, Umvoto says goodbye to one of its longest employed staff members, Paul Lee, who worked as Senior Environmentalist and Climatologist since 2012. Paul has headed the Umvoto environmental section and been a vital part of the Hermanus, Stanford, and Steenbras groundwater and ecological monitoring campaigns, as well as climatological data monitoring, meteorological recording station installation, and environmental compliance. Paul’s next chapter involves working as a weather forecaster for a private company offering luxury adventures in remote areas of the Antarctic. We wish him all the best on this exciting adventure and look forward to the next brown bag lecture upon his return.
Umvoto’s marketing took a more streamlined approach in 2022 to showcase the various work undertaken and services offered by Umvoto. This took the form of articles, quotes, statistics, infographics, and visuals (photographs and/or videos), which has done well in Umvoto’s social media analytics. One of the biggest marketing campaigns was for Women’s Day in August where Umvoto, in collaboration with TUF, organised a sanitary drive to support the women and girls of Griffiths Mxenge, Khayelitsha. Items donated included sanitary pads, facecloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and soap. Umvoto/TUF were able to collect 50 gift bags, which were given to the Indawo, Abantu, Injongo eKhayelitsha group to distribute within the community. In addition to the sanitary drive, Umvoto hosted its first webinar, Women in Geoscience, which was a huge success and saw more than 100 participants.
Several of Umvoto’s staff have had the opportunity to travel this year. After the global pandemic limiting travel in the past two years, it is a welcome privilege for staff to explore again.
In September, Keanan Woolf tackled the Klipspringer Hike in the Augrabies National Park. The journey involved a 36 km+ trek with breath-taking views of the desolate terrain and gorges of the Orange River.
Annalisa Vicente toured Portugal in July to explore her Portuguese heritage. She visited a few places such as Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Coimbra, Aveiro and Porto. She appreciated the proud, family-orientated culture, and of course the food and festivals.
In June, David McGibbon and his family travelled to Denmark and Sweden. David spent most of his time in the countryside where he explored the forests, farmlands and seaside. He then took a ferry from Denmark to Sweden where he spent time in Gothenburg, a seaport located on the Göta älv River. Luckily, because of a delayed flight, he was also able to spend a few days in Frankfurt, Germany.
Luke Towers and some close pirate friends went to Mozambique on a fishing trip in November.
Some staff participated in various marathons during the course of the year. Kevin de Bruin, Fahad Aziz, Annalisa Vicente, and Kirsty Gibson ran the 10 km race at the Cape Town Marathon in October finishing in 56 minutes (sub 1 hour). David McGibbon ran the RMB Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT) 100 miler (163 km) in 33 hours in November. The trail run traverses the Cape Peninsula with an elevation gain of 7 516 m and includes trails from Table Mountain to Constantiaberg, Silvermine to Kalk Bay, Simon’s Town and Kommetjie.
Congratulations to Magen Munnik for being awarded her Professional Natural Scientist registration in the Earth Science Field of Practice with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).
Keanan Woolf graduated with his Master’s in December 2022 in Applied Geology from the University of the Western Cape, focusing on constraining the stratigraphy and paleotectonic development of the Cango Caves Group using detrital zircon and whole-rock geochemistry.
Warrick Daws also graduated with his Master’s in December 2022 in Geology from the University of Cape Town, focusing on hydrogen, oxygen, and strontium isotope variation in groundwater in the Hout Bay region.
Shaakirah Adams submitted her Master’s thesis in Geology in June 2022 to the University of Cape Town, which focused on measuring the Cango Fault scarp using MATLAB after the photogrammetric creation of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) from National Geo-Spatial Information (NGI) aerial photographs. Umvoto will be cheering you on from the side-lines at your graduation next year.
Congratulations to Rebecca Stephenson on starting her Masters in January 2022 through Stellenbosch University. Her thesis will look at the hydrogeology and characteristics of the degraded Onrus peatland near Hermanus in the Western Cape, which she aims to finish by the end of 2023.
Congratulations to Nadia Hamit on the birth of her daughter, Jasmine. And to Fahad Aziz on his marriage to Shakeelah.
Internal Development and Contributions
CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS
Dylan Blake and Paul Lee presented TUF’s geoheritage work (namely the Table Mountain Dams Geotrail and Hermanus Water Walk) at the Geological Society of South Africa’s Geoheritage Conference (YouTube presentation in link starts at 1:16:35) in April 2022 (which included the inaugural Table Mountain Dams Geotrail hike), the Oxford Geoheritage Virtual Conference (YouTube presentation in link starts at 59:35) in June 2022, and to the Mountain Club of South Africa also in June 2022.
Umvoto were winners and finalists in the 2021 The Dewatering Institute (TDI) awards categories of Wells/Drilling Project of the Year and Sustainability Excellence Company of the Year, respectively. Zandri Rademan and Luke Towers presented the two case studies that were submitted in a free webinar, hosted by the TDI, on 27th July 2022. The webinar focused on Umvoto’s innovative contributions to the CCTs NWP.
Looking forward to 2023, Dylan Blake and Kornelius Riemann will be chairing the hydrogeology session at GeoCongress 2023 being held at Stellenbosch University during mid-January 2023, whereas Umvoto will also be out in force for the 50th Congress of The International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in mid-September 2023. The NWP projects are highlighted in their promotional video.
David McGibbon and Luke Towers presented a lecture on Groundwater Management and Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) to Future Water Institute students from the University of Cape Town for their Sustainable Water Management course. This is the third year that Umvoto have assisted with the course.
STRIVING TOWARDS THE SDGs
Gemma Bluff and Paul Lee completed the second round of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Ambition Accelerator in February 2022. Umvoto already aligns to the SDGs in the work it does in relation to water resource management – groundwater, climate change adaption, and wetland conservation, to name a few. Umvoto continues to aim for the benchmark “Net-Positive Water Impact in Water-Stressed Basins” (for example, Cape Town and the greater Western Cape). The goal of this benchmark is to ensure all large-scale water users (industry, municipality, agriculture) utilise groundwater and MAR as part of their resource management (i.e., conjunctive water use), where regionally and environmentally applicable.
Read about more of our SDG initiatives here.
The Umvoto Foundation
Although various social hydrogeology projects have been undertaken by Umvoto in prior years (e.g., the Hoerikwaggo Critical Zone Observatory), TUF was officially established in December 2020. TUF is a non-profit company (NPC) who aims to support the development of community capacity by means of achieving clean ecosystems.
TUF published the first field guidebook in the TUF Geoheritage series in July 2022, funded by the 35IGC Legacy Fund. It focuses on the history of the Table Mountain dams and Cape Town’s water supply from past to present. Paul Lee and Dylan Blake accompanied hikers on two hikes on the geotrail throughout the year, where the hikers could utilise the interactive trail map in the Forge app that highlights key locations of interest in the guidebook.
TUF are working on the second geoheritage field guidebook, namely the Hermanus Water Walk in association with the Overberg Geoscientists Group, which will also come out during the course of next year. This year, Umvoto continues to turn the spotlight on geoheritage and its importance, and hopes to also continue developing the Henno Martin Geotrail in honour of the late Dr Chris Hartnady, who announced his passion project earlier last year at the Naukluft Mountain Symposium.
The Lotus Canal
TUF’s project along the Lotus Canal has continued on from efforts made in 2021, most notably the water sampling demonstration done in partnership with Edith Stephens Nature Reserve for workers in the Expanded Public Works programme. More information can be found about this demonstration here.
Indawo, Abuntu, Injongo e Khayelitsha
The Indawo, Abantu, Injongo e Khayelitsha initiative (working with initiative leader Busiswa Nomyayi) has shown much progress throughout the year. Efforts continued with the greening and beautification along Hlontlo Street, while the bench initiative was completed earlier in the year. Along the way the ladies of Indawo, Abuntu, Injongo e Khayelitsha attended a recycling workshop hosted by the CCT to learn more about how to recycle the waste they collect. The aforementioned sanitary drive was organised for this community.
The highlight of the year was that these joint efforts in Khayelitsha led to Indawo, Abuntu, Injongo e Khayelitsha and TUF winning three awards at the recent #cocreate Blue-Green Cities Design Awards 2022 (as part of the #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL 2022). To read more about these awards read the full article here.
New projects and partnerships
TUF has not only continued their pre-existing projects but have launched two new projects/partnerships this year, which aim to take off in 2023.
Lower Silvermine Wetland
In 2022, TUF partnered with Friends Of the Silvermine Nature Reserve (FOSNA) and started the Lower Silvermine Wetland Project. The aim of the project is to help communities achieve clean and healthy ecosystems. Both TUF and FOSNA share a commitment for environmental education and realise the impact it can have on conservation. This project was therefore designed with education at its centre and will kick start at the beginning of 2023. To read more about what this project entails, head over to TUFs website.
TUF has had a connection with React24 over the past few years. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, their partnership slowed down. This year, however, they have worked together on a number of projects and have a few exciting ones coming up. React24 generously donated tiles for decorating benches and donated 200 packs of sanitary pads for Umvoto/TUFs Woman’s Month sanitary drive. Both of these donations contributed towards TUFs Khayelitsha project. Moving into 2023, TUF has agreed to provide a series of talks to the students at the React24 college on the importance of effective water management. React24 is further partnering with TUF by offering four scholarships to communities in areas that TUF work. Two scholarships will go to the community in Khayelitsha and two to the community around the Lotus Canal.
UPDATES ON EXISTING LONG-TERM PROJECTS
Atlantis Water Resource Management Scheme
Umvoto welcomed a new engineering team to the Atlantis Water Resource Management Scheme (AWRMS) project (Zutari) in 2022. This saw a lot of time in the year going toward design review and refinement as well as regularisation (water use licence applications) of construction works and the scheme as a whole. Monitoring and modelling of the aquifer continued and provide valuable insights to long-term aquifer responses to abstraction and MAR. Despite numerous challenges related to infrastructure failure, the AWRMS was able to supply ~85% of its targeted annual volume. The new year will see the full implementation of the refurbished wellfields with focus on optimising control of the MAR scheme.
Table Mountain Group Aquifer Wellfield Development
2022 was a relatively quiet year in terms of wellfield development of the TMG, with most work focusing on groundwater monitoring for water use licence compliance and determining aquifer response to the large-scale groundwater abstraction (up to 15 million litres per day) that took place as part of Steenbras Wellfield commissioning during 2021. 2023 will see the completion of Steenbras Wellfield through the deepening and equipping of the four ultra-deep (1000 m+) Peninsula Aquifer production boreholes, along with expansion of the ecological monitoring network to ensure groundwater abstraction does not negatively impact on vulnerable fynbos and groundwater-dependent ecosystems.
Cape Flats Aquifer Management Scheme
Umvoto continued the development of the Cape Flats Aquifer Management Scheme under Zutari with the first wellfield, Strandfontein West to be commissioned in early 2023. Additional work included the ongoing monitoring and hydrogeological assessments to inform design and implementation. 2023 sees the continuation of drilling, rehabilitation and wellfield tracer testing to refine the managed aquifer recharge (MAR) component of the scheme.
2022 has seen continued groundwater monitoring and management of the TMG aquifers in Hermanus and Baardskeerdersbos and Kouevlakte Wellfield within the Stanford Aquifer for the Overstrand Local Municipality (LM). In addition, Umvoto has also been undertaking the basic assessment report for the Hemel en Aarde Wellfield Expansion. The Overstrand LM aims to expand groundwater abstraction infrastructure within the Hemel en Aarde Wellfield through the drilling of additional production boreholes (and associated connector pipelines), to be able to abstract up to its full water use licence volume of 1.6 million cubic metres per annum. The first additional production borehole will be drilled in early 2023, along with optimisation of the existing wellfield boreholes. Expansion of both the Gateway and the Hemel en Aarde Wellfields (allowing for a maximum combined licensed groundwater abstraction volume of 3.2 million cubic metres per annum) and conjunctive use of surface water from De Bos Dam will ensure improved resilience for the greater Hermanus area against future droughts and water shortages.
Apart from Umvoto’s long-term projects, the team also undertook several significant projects during 2022 that ranged in scope and scale:
Major Groundwater Projects
Windhoek Aquifer Groundwater Modelling
The City of Windhoek is currently busy with a long-term project to develop the Windhoek Aquifer, to eventually safeguard sustainable potable water supply to the city during times of drought. Umvoto was approached to produce an updated 3D numerical groundwater model of the Windhoek Aquifer (using hydrogeological data from newly drilled deep boreholes). Umvoto travelled to Windhoek to attend a workshop for skills development and data handover where modelling results were presented to various stakeholders.
In February 2022 Umvoto was appointed by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to conduct a high confidence Groundwater Reserve Determination Study for the Berg Catchment. Over a 2-year period, the study aims to determine the groundwater contribution to the Reserve (i.e., the water “set aside” to provide for basic human needs and to sustain water ecosystems) to assist the DWS in making sound management decisions regarding stressed or over-utilised water resources, while ensuring that they are afforded a level of protection that will assure a sustainable level of utilisation in the future.
Transboundary Ramotswa Aquifer Remediation
Feasibility study to review proposed in-situ denitrification of the Ramotswa Aquifer, Botswana. Umvoto, along with colleagues from the IWW (Germany) and Advanced Turnkey Solutions (South Africa), were appointed by the KFW (German Development bank) and DBSA (Development Bank of Southern Africa) to assess the technical, environmental and social feasibility of a proposed technology aimed at reducing nitrate concentrations in the transboundary Ramotswa Aquifer through in-situ treatment. The inception phase started in December and the project team is expected to deliver its final opinion and report in July 2023.
WRC Groundwater Management Guideline Documents
Umvoto, in partnership with the Water Research Commission (WRC) and Danish experts as part of the Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) between Denmark and South Africa, have developed three guidance documents which aim to describe management approaches for optimal use of groundwater. The guidance documents cover topics of:
- Groundwater Data Collection
- Groundwater Protection Zones (Delineation and Protection).
- Management of Groundwater Schemes
Guidelines form the base of the South African legislative framework for water resource management and are important in implementing the goals of the various legislation and strategies at a grassroots level. The Guidance Document for Management of a Groundwater Scheme provides best practice and management principles for effective operations, maintenance, and monitoring of various types of groundwater schemes – from small scale private boreholes to large scale municipal supply.
The document for Groundwater Data Collection outlines, in accordance with existing national standards, the techniques and processes for measuring, collecting, processing, validating and storing of groundwater data, including water level, water quality, remote sensing and data gathered through drilling and test-pumping.
The Guidance Document for Groundwater Protection is particularly important and draws on international legislation and methodologies for groundwater quality protection as none currently exist in South Africa. The document provides simple to complex methodologies for groundwater protection zone delineation and vulnerability mapping, identification of potential contaminating activities, and finally formulating a protection response suitable for all kinds of groundwater users, aquifer types and resources available. The three documents also outline the relevant groundwater stakeholders and their responsibilities.
Groundwater Support to Moses Kotane and Thabazimbi Local Municipalities
This year, Umvoto was appointed as part of Anglo-American Municipal Capability and Partnership Programme. This project is a collaborative effort between Anglo American, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, local municipalities, and other role players to strengthen service delivery, tackle existing and future challenges, and improve resilience of municipalities.
Over the coming years, Umvoto will provide expert input to water resource management, particularly groundwater, in the Moses Kotane and Thabazimbi Local Municipalities where there is high reliance on groundwater for rural water supply. The project entails a strong focus on education, training and capacity building for overall management and systems improvement.
Umvoto’s reputation for providing accurate, ethical groundwater consultation services is certainly spreading through the Western Cape Province. 2022 saw an uptick in Umvoto’s agricultural sector project portfolio. These included:
- Groundwater Assessment and Development for numerous farms in the following regions: Koue Bokkeveld, West Coast, Cape Winelands, Overberg, Swartland and Klein Karoo. The assessments varied in scope and scale ranging from greenfield to brownfield development and water use regularisation.
- Landsat-5 Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) analysis for review of the Existing Lawful Use (ELU) abstraction volume of a farm in the Uilkraals River valley near Stanford.
Residential, Commercial and Industrial Sectors
Some of the work undertaken by Umvoto in 2022 in the commercial/industrial sectors includes:
- Groundwater monitoring and water use licence auditing for a new housing development in the Bellville area.
- Groundwater feasibility study for a large commercial and residential development in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.
- Groundwater specialist studies for three major proposed wind energy facilities south of Beaufort West.
- Borehole siting within the Stanford Aquifer for groundwater supply to road reconstruction between Stanford and Gansbaai.
- Section 21(a) General Authorisation groundwater registrations and water use licence applications for estates and golf courses in the Overstrand area.
- Undertaking of an Applicability Checklist for an existing seawater package desalination plant in Saldanha Bay.
GIS and Remote Sensing
Collaborative Water Governance in the Philippi Horticultural Area
Since mid-2020 Umvoto has been collaborating with Stellenbosch University’s Water Institute on a two-part project centred on human-water interactions in the Phillippi Horticultural Area (PHA). Funded by the WRC and WWF Nedbank Green Trust, the first part of this project focuses on improving water governance and the second part the physical clearing and restoring of waterways within the PHA. A large component of both aspects was engaging the citizens of the PHA, through direct jobs as well as mapping monitoring of locations within the PHA. Umvoto’s role on the project included environmental education, desktop and field mapping of the waterways and measurement of restored waterways and pollution mapping. These five GIS components came together through the development and implementation of participatory GIS mapping using KoboCollect, a free mobile based application for collecting data that is geo-enabled.
The last quarter of 2022 saw Umvoto being invited to partner with Advance Africa Management Services to undertake a scoping study for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The aim of this intensive scoping was to identify AGRAs needs in terms of reporting on and monitoring the progress of AGRAs pan-African interventions in improving small holder participation in their country’s formal economy, increasing crop yields, and farmer household resilience.
Contamination and Stormwater
Umvoto undertook numerous contaminated land assessments and contamination risk assessments for a variety of clients ranging form industrial processors, mines waste facilities and food production facilities. The various stormwater management plans undertaken are often dove tailed with contamination risk assessments and inform clients on best practise when establishing new or retro fitting infrastructure in areas where stormwater and contaminated land may be a concern. Umvoto continue to monitor for soil and water contamination at numerous sites where treated effluent is used for irrigation purposes.