our work

Letter from Umvoto’s Managing Director

Ronnie Kingwill black and white headshot

As the year closes, it is my privilege as Umvoto’s new Managing Director to leave you with some memories and thoughts of the past year. Umvoto has had a very good year and the targets that were set have been achieved and, in many cases, exceeded. At the heart of these achievements has been the strong work ethic in Umvoto and the continued effort to seek scientific rigor and add value to our clients. This can only be achieved with good teamwork with colleagues who are equally passionate about their roles. A highlight of 2023 was the exposure and recognition Umvoto enjoyed at the IAH 50th Worldwide Groundwater Congress held in Cape Town. I am sure that the contacts made, and lessons learnt, will help extend the Umvoto brand.

Behind the scenes, the support from the administrative team has meant that our field staff can focus on their passion while the support team delivers on their skills. Thanks team! Your efforts do not go unnoticed. The thought I would like to leave you with at the end of the year is that you are part of a wonderful company, and the family ethos continues as illustrated by the daily visits to the kitchen and the home smells that emerge throughout the day. Long may this continue. As we take time off over the festive season, may the joy of spending time with families and loved ones be equally memorable and enjoyable. Rest and recuperate, as 2024 will no doubt be full of new challenges and opportunities for growth. My wish in closing, is that this will become a reality and that this time next year the Umvoto brand and family are still going strong.

Best Regards

r kingwill signature

Managing Director

Staff News


2023 has been another successful year with long-term projects continuing and new projects and partnerships starting. Fieldwork continued across numerous projects which allowed staff to experience the joys of nature while undertaking scientific research. A particular highlight was the commissioning of the Blossoms Wellfield for the Oudtshoorn Municipality which Umvoto has been involved with for over 20 years.

By aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy), Umvoto has “gone off grid” by installing 50 solar panels on the roofs of the Muizenberg office. Where load shedding had impacted office work, solar power ensures our office work is uninterrupted and our online data is stored reliably.

The office vegetable garden has provided some wholesome vegetables to add to daily lunchtimes with cauliflower, lettuce, cucumbers, chillies, and basil being grown.

In honour of Mandela Day, staff participated in a lunchtime beach and vlei cleanup where 11 bags of trash were collected along Muizenberg Beach and Zandvlei. Well done team!


Umvoto welcomes new staff members to the team: Ronnie Kingwill (Managing Director); Londeka Gumede (Hydrogeologist); Melissa Rankin and Kim Parker (Junior Environmentalists); and Lucia Mhlanga, Raees Stevens, Siyabulela Mafilika, Kopano Mokoena, and Khutjo Diphofe (Junior Hydrogeologists). The 2023 internship programme continued in September with two new interns joining Umvoto for six months. Welcome Samuel Fraser and Simphiwe Stemela!

Umvoto also welcomed student Michaela Naude who spent a week in September work shadowing some of Umvoto’s staff to gain a better understanding of what a hydrogeologist does. This was sponsored by The Umvoto Foundation (TUF).


Several of Umvoto’s staff have had the opportunity to travel this year. After the global pandemic limiting travel, it is a welcome privilege for staff to explore again.  

Luke Towers was lucky enough to go on three adventures in 2023: the first to New York City and the Turks and Caicos Islands to visit his sister; the second embarking on a 10-day trans-Okavango kayak trip; and the third his annual fishing trip to Mozambique to fish the hallowed waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago.

Jannie Weitz recently returned from a trip to Switzerland where he experienced some of the most breathtaking views while indulging in divine Swiss chocolate.

Kobus Prinsloo and his family took a road trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and across Southern Namibia in June and July.

Melissa Rankin visited family in Australia for two weeks for her sister’s wedding.

Some staff participated in various marathons during the course of the year. Kevin de Bruin, Kirsty Gibson, Jannie Weitz, Mimosa Yokwe, Delmarie Carolissen, and Gemma Bluff ran the 5 km and 10 km races at the Spar Women’s Challenge in April. Kirsty Gibson further pushed her endurance this year as she completed two additional marathons prior to this – the Cape Peninsula Marathon in February and the Weskus Marathon in March. The Cape Peninsula Marathon was her first 42.2 km, marking a new milestone in her running career. David McGibbon joined Kirsty in a number of the marathons and also completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Puffer (Peninsula Ultra Fun Run) trail race and added in a bit of cycling with the 230 km Trans Baviaans mountain bike race. Londeka Gumede and Delmarie Carolissen participated in the 10 km Totalsports Women’s Race in October, with Londeka also running the 10 km Sanlam Cape Town Marathon two weeks later.

The Umvoto soccer team continues to play at the Fives Futbol Grand Central court every Thursday, with the team being comprised of Umvoto staff (Dylan Blake, Kevin de Bruin, Keanan Woolf, Siyabulela Mafilika, Raees Stevens, Andrew Mkali, and Simphiwe Stemela), long-time external player Keegan van Wyk, and other young local Muizenberg players (if Umvoto staff are injured or away in the field).


Congratulations to Matthew Misrole, Kirsty Gibson, Keanan Woolf, Kevin de Bruin, and Gemma Bluff for being awarded their Professional Natural Scientist registration in the Geological Science, Earth Science, and Atmospheric Science Field of Practices, respectively, with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).

Lucia Mhlanga graduated with her Honours in April in Environmental Science with Hydrology and Geohydrology from the North-West University, focusing on modelling the effects of climate change on regional groundwater systems in the Upper Crocodile West catchment.


Congratulations to Raees Stevens on his marriage to Mishka and on the birth of their daughter, Sahar. And to David McGibbon and his wife Meg on the birth of their second son, Angus.

lucia honours graduation

Lucia Mhlanga at her Honours graduation.

Internal Development and Contributions


Dylan Blake chaired the groundwater session at GeoCongress 2023 held at Stellenbosch University in January, as also assisted the Overberg Geoscientist’s Group (OGG) in guiding a post-conference field trip through the beautiful Table Mountain Group (TMG) geology and hydrogeology of the Overberg region. In addition, Dylan also:

Several Umvoto staff attended the International Association of Hydrogeologists 50th Worldwide Groundwater Congress at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in September which included three field trips for an international audience showcasing the City of Cape Town’s (CCT) New Water Programme (NWP) groundwater projects within the Atlantis Aquifer, the Cape Flats Aquifer, and TMG aquifers at Steenbras Wellfield. The CCT NWP groundwater projects were highlighted in the congress promotional video. The congress also showcased Umvoto’s involvement in various bulk water supply, modelling, social hydrogeology and hydro-geoheritage projects. Umvoto won “Best Exhibitors” award at the end of the week-long conference.

Umvoto were requested by Proxa to do a keynote presentation at their Watershed Movement Workshop, which David McGibbon presented at and included discussions on all aspects of water, from groundwater to treatment and assurance of supply.   

David McGibbon and Luke Towers once again presented on groundwater resources and management at the UCT Future Water Institute.


All staff participated in Level 1 first aid training in March and April this year held by SafeTech, providing them with basic first aid knowledge for in the office and when in the field. All staff received a Certificate of Competence.

Junior Environmentalist’s Kim Parker and Melissa Rankin attended a two-day short course on the Introduction to Wetland Assessments in early December. Kim and Melissa have been equipped with the skills to undertake a Level 1A Wet-Health Assessment, including wetland identification and mapping as well as learning about other contributing aspects such as soil type and vegetation identification. Melissa and Kim look forward to using their newfound knowledge in 2024.

Our internal development sessions, known as Brown Bag lectures, are casual and interactive gatherings where team members come together to share and discuss various topics of interest. Stemming from the pre-COVID tradition of meeting downstairs with a laid-back atmosphere including drinks and snacks, these sessions feature presentations by staff members on various topics. The topics covered range from conference practice and recent developments to personal experiences. Occasionally, we also welcome external contributors who share insights relevant to our work as earth scientists.

Reflecting on the diverse array of brown bags we’ve hosted this year, our internal development sessions have been both enriching and informative. From the warm welcome extended to our new team members to the captivating insights shared by Paul Lee on his weather monitoring work for aeroplanes landing in Antarctica, and the firsthand experiences of Matthew Hodge, an exploration geologist with a rich history in Africa. Each session has contributed to our collective knowledge.


Umvoto is in the process of aligning with the United Nations’ Forward Faster campaign which aims to increase company accountability and transparency in our commitments to strive for Gender Equality, Climate Action and Water Resilience under the Sustainable Development Goals. The Water Resilience target includes endorsing the CEO Water Mandate which aims to advance global corporate water stewardship, where companies have a forum “to share good practices and forge partnerships to address urgent water challenges related to scarcity, quality, governance and access to water and sanitation”.

Read more on our SDG initiatives here.

The Umvoto Foundation

TUF continued work on projects initiated during 2022, including:

  • Continued development of the Hermanus Water Walk and geoheritage field guidebook, which will be completed by mid-2024.
  • Continued support to Indawo, Abuntu, Injongo e Khayelitsha.
  • Hydrochemical sampling of the Silvermine River and Wetland for the Friends of the Silvermine Nature Area (FOSNA), as well as Dylan Blake presenting on the geology, hydrogeology, hydrology and geomorphology of the Silvermine River Valley on a FOSNA Saturday morning educational hike, and attending FOSNA’s “From Source To Sea” fundraising hike from Silvermine Dam to the Silvermine River estuary mouth at Clovelly. TUF aims to undertake environmental education drives with local South Peninsula schools in association with FOSNA in 2024.
  • Continued United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Water Quality Alliance/Assessment (WWQA) Africa Use Cases project work on the Volta River Basin, Cape Town Aquifers and Lake Victoria, with Kornelius Riemann organising and hosting a workshop in Accra, Ghana.



City of Cape Town New Water Programme

Atlantis Water Resource Management Scheme (AWRMS)

Umvoto’s ongoing efforts in refurbishing and optimising the AWRMS, along with Zutari and CCT’s Bulk Water Branch, continued throughout the year. Redrilled production boreholes have been equipped and production from the wellfields will once again ramp up in the first quarter of 2024. Great effort at refurbishing the Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) infrastructure has also been spent this year with Umvoto securing CCT a Water Use Licence for the reconstruction of key infrastructure, vital to the safe and successful recharging of the aquifer.

Monitoring and transient 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 is set to offer resilience once again to the town of Atlantis.

atlantis 3

Table Mountain Group Aquifer Wellfield Development

2023 saw the completion of drilling and testing of the remaining three ultra-deep Peninsula Aquifer production boreholes at Steenbras Wellfield, namely H8A10 (1101 metres (m)), H8A4 (1077 m) and H8A5 (1120 m) (with H8A9 at 1002 m deep being completed at the end of 2021). Good borehole yields between 10-20 litres per second (l/s) were acquired for the four deep Peninsula Aquifer boreholes, and these will be commissioned and incorporated into Steenbras Wellfield in early 2024, with the wellfield planned to be fully operational and abstracting ~20 Ml/day by the middle of 2024. Cleaning of existing Nardouw Aquifer boreholes was also undertaken where required. Umvoto undertook the licensing for the CCT of a new long-term Section 21(a), (c) and (i) water use licence (WUL) for Steenbras Wellfield, which was awarded by the national Department of Water and Sanitation in December. In addition, ultra-deep Peninsula Aquifer exploratory core borehole drilling was completed in the G1A Target Site Area at Rustfontein along the southern banks of Theewaterskloof Dam, with the four G1A1 to G1A4 boreholes now reaching depths of ~792-1093 m and all being strongly artesian in nature.

h1a3b borehole cleaning

Cape Flats Aquifer Management Scheme (CFAMS)

Umvoto continued the development of the CFAMS under Zutari with the successful commissioning of the Strandfontein West Wellfields boreholes. The water treatment plant itself will be commissioned in early 2024. The year also saw major progress in the construction of the advanced water reclamation plant for the source water of the MAR component of the scheme. Additional work included the ongoing monitoring, drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes, hydrogeological assessments and tracer tests to inform design and implementation.

Overstrand Local Municipality Groundwater Management

2023 has seen continued groundwater monitoring and management for the Overstrand Local Municipality (LM) (with Umvoto winning the contract for the next three years of groundwater management for the municipality from 2023-2026), including the TMG aquifer wellfields in Hermanus (Gateway, Camphill and Volmoed Wellfields) and Baardskeerdersbos, and the Kouevlakte Wellfield within the Stanford Aquifer. In addition, Umvoto undertook the Basic Assessment Report (which was granted Environmental Authorisation) and Section 21(c) and (i) WUL application for the Hemel en Aarde Wellfield Expansion. The Overstrand LM aims to expand groundwater abstraction infrastructure within the Hemel en Aarde wellfields 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 (m3/a). Drilling of two new production boreholes will take place in the first half of 2024.

Field monitoring in Hermanus

Berg Catchment Groundwater Reserve

Phase 3 of the High Confidence Groundwater Reserve Determination Study for the Berg Catchment made significant progress in 2023, including various stakeholder meetings and capacity building workshops. To date the project has completed the re-evaluation of Groundwater Resource Units, defining of Ecological Reference conditions, establishing the groundwater reserve, and the initiation of a monitoring programme to safeguard both the Basic Human Needs and Ecological Water Requirements Reserves. The project will conclude in early-2024 with the gazetting of the groundwater reserve.

Groundwater Support to Moses Kotane and Thabazimbi Local Municipalities

As part of the Anglo-American Municipal Capability and Partnership Programme (AA-MCPP), Umvoto is providing expert input to groundwater resource management in the Moses Kotane and Thabazimbi Local Municipalities in the North West Province. Aligning with Umvoto’s social ethos, the project has a strong focus on education, training, and capacity building to improve management and maintenance of the water supply systems.

Oudtshoorn Groundwater Project

Umvoto continues its work in the Oudtshoorn region where on 4 October 2023, the Blossoms Wellfield was formally opened to supply the town of Oudtshoorn with groundwater from three artesian boreholes. Umvoto also continues with the groundwater monitoring of the region to ensure sustainable use.

official opening of Blossoms Wellfield


Apart from Umvoto’s long-term projects, the team also undertook several significant projects during 2023 that ranged in scope and scale:

broad valley bv02 42
Major Groundwater Projects

Umvoto are part of a team run by Bigen to determine the baseflow requirements for over 40 catchments as part of the Breede-Berg Transfer scheme feasibility assessment.

Umvoto undertook numerous specialist hydrogeological assessments for mines in Namibia as well as stormwater management plans for new developments across the Western Cape.

Agricultural Sector

Umvoto’s reputation for providing accurate, ethical groundwater consultation services is certainly spreading through the Western Cape Province. 2023 saw an uptick in Umvoto’s agricultural sector project portfolio. These included groundwater assessment and borehole siting, groundwater development (i.e., drilling, testing, and where required equipping) and licensing at various farms in the Piketberg, Hemel en Aarde, Ceres Karoo, Sandveld and Gansbaai regions.

monitoring in belhar cbd
Residential, Commercial and Industrial Sectors

Some of the work undertaken by Umvoto in 2023 in the commercial/industrial sectors includes:

  • Schools and hospitals in the greater Cape Town region.
  • Groundwater monitoring for a new housing development in the Bellville area, an estate in Hout Bay and industrial development in Bellville.
  • Groundwater specialist studies for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for proposed solar photovoltaic facilities (in Mpumalanga and Cape Town), housing developments in Cape Town, and proposed fuel stations in Cape Town.
  • Groundwater management and monitoring plans for residential estates in the greater Langebaan area.
  • Section 21(a) General Authorisation groundwater registrations for estates in Cape Town and Stanford.
stofbergsfontein well

GIS and Remote Sensing

It was another active year for Umvoto’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS), with nearly all of Umvoto work involving GIS and RS to various degrees. This year Umvoto’s projects spanned a number of regions and types and gave the Geoinformatics team the opportunity to learn about a few new places.

As part of Umvoto’s drive to add value to clients, the continued adoption and integration of our PostGIS database has allowed more staff to be involved in GIS analysis, reducing analysis turnaround times and enhancing report findings. This integration and upskilling of Umvoto scientists, producing informative analysis and geovisualisations.

GIS has played a critical role in the synthesis and visualisation of findings for the Berg Catchment Groundwater Reserve project. One of the outputs has been the development of a focussed monitoring programme for both the surface water catchments and the groundwater resource unit (GRU) of the Berg system.

Umvoto projects ongoing and completed in 2023. Umvoto continues to extend our work outside our Western Cape base, with plans in 2024 to strengthen our project presence beyond South Africa.

By combining 1:250 000 mapped geology with Sentinel-2 derived False Colour Composites a greater level of geological detail an insight can be quickly achieved.

The select monitoring sites of the Goot Winterhoek GRU, one of the 25 GRUs for the Berg catchment, showing the groundwater contribution to base flow (bottom left), aquifer types (top right) and its low population density (bottom right). These factors, along with others, has resulted in the Groot Winterhoek being assigned a Management Option 1 (MO 1) indicating the need for biannual to quarterly monitoring of groundwater level and water quality at indicate sites.

Thank you for reading our 2023 newsletter! Be sure to follow us to see what 2024 has in store.


8 Beach Road

muizenberg, Cape town