SERVICES

Umvoto has a holistic approach to finding environmentally- and socially-sustainable solutions for its clients. We are committed to scientific and technological excellence in our field, offering groundbreaking and cost-effective solutions to water resource, disaster risk and social challenges.

Umvoto Africa is locally and internationally acclaimed for its expertise in primary, fractured, basement and karstic aquifers. Our team’s significant knowledge of geological and hydrogeological processes forms the basis for highly successful groundwater resource evaluation, exploration, development, monitoring and management. Our expertise and experience, together with engineering associates, allows us to deliver turnkey projects covering every step to water in the tap, from geological mapping, borehole siting, borehole drilling and testing, groundwater treatment, wellfield operations/maintenance, numerical modelling and aquifer/ecological/climatological monitoring.

Given the growing concern around water resource contamination and the legal need for due diligence, this expertise is also applied, with predictive modelling tools, to determine site contamination and groundwater pollution with a view to design the most appropriate remediation measures. 

Surface and groundwater modelling simulate flow and transport processes overland and underground, improving our understanding of these processes and informing decisions that affect them. With a dedicated team of modellers, Umvoto Africa delivers solutions tailored to the client and project’s needs, integrated within project workflows to obtain the greatest benefit from the modelling process throughout the project lifespan. 

Given the growing concern around water resource contamination and the legal need for due diligence, this expertise is also applied, with predictive modelling tools, to determine site contamination and groundwater pollution with a view to design the most appropriate remediation measures. 

Surface and groundwater modelling simulate flow and transport processes overland and underground, improving our understanding of these processes and informing decisions that affect them. With a dedicated team of modellers, Umvoto delivers solutions tailored to the client and project’s needs, integrated within project workflows to obtain the greatest benefit from the modelling process throughout the project lifespan.

Underpinning Umvoto Africa’s monitor-model-manage approach to both surface and groundwater water resources is a solid foundation of field knowledge and hands-on experience, with an emphasis on ground-truthing exploration hypotheses and aquifer specific knowledge to inform wellfield management. We have led our competitors in implementing an adaptive management approach to groundwater resource evaluation and development in South Africa by developing systems for both evaluating surface water-groundwater interaction and integrating groundwater into existing surface water planning tools.

Umvoto has experience in a range of hydrological investigations, including hydrological impact assessments and stormwater management planning. This allows Umvoto to assess the potential impacts of watercourse flows on developments, the impact of developments on watercourses, and to advise on the associated mitigation and management measures.

The Umvoto Africa team’s experience with South Africa’s National Water Act and associated legislation supports strategic approaches in water resource development studies, which is vital to water use licence applications and associated aquifer sustainability. Through the pioneering development of aquifer monitoring committees Umvoto Africa has developed expertise in water resource public liaison, securing public buy-in in the process. Umvoto Africa aims to ensure ecologically sustainable water resource development ranging from large-scale urban wellfields to smaller-scale agricultural, industrial, commercial and domestic supply systems, providing drought resilient solutions for all forms of development.

The Umvoto Africa team has long experience in the application and successful awarding of Water Use Licenses in terms of the section 21 of the National Water Act having worked with a variety of clients in local governments, agricultural and manufacturing industries on applications for various Water Use Licenses. Water Use License applications have varied from the abstraction of ground and surface water for domestic use and agricultural use, to the discharge of treated effluent, alteration of stream and river beds and banks, recharging of groundwater, dewatering of pits and mines, and all other section 21 uses. This experience and knowledge of the various relevant legislation is applied in development of monitoring and resource protection protocols.

Umvoto’s geotechnical team has hands-on experience in a broad range of geological applications. Our geotechnical site investigations and design include foundation design and rehabilitation; housing projects (residential and NHBRC); retaining walls (lateral earth pressures); slope stability (design and rehabilitation); marine applications and projects; rock excavations and mining applications; dams, reservoirs and storm water applications. On larger projects, we make use of our association with senior and principal geotechnical engineers.

Umvoto Africa has extensive experience in quantifying geohazards and their associated risks, both natural and man-made. These risk analyses and assessment services are sought by provincial, national and international clients, including the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations. Our disaster risk reduction (DRR) service supports the integrated disaster management planning (through developing early warning systems and hazard monitoring) required by South Africa’s Disaster Management Act. Umvoto Africa has also consulted to several municipalities, implementing the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level. Umvoto Africa’s experience with geohazards includes seismic risk assessments for infrastructure such as pipelines and mine developments, and large-scale regional coastal hazard assessments.

Umvoto Africa has also compiled and run advanced probabilistic and deterministic risk simulation models. We have shared our research with several United Nations international programmes for DRR and sustainable development, as well as the Global Earth Observation (GEO) programme. Umvoto Africa has also undertaken a capacity needs assessment for disaster risk management for the Kingdom of Lesotho and a situational analysis of DRR policies and practices in Malawi. The team has authored a series of educational booklets for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) on various aspects of DRR, such as gender, land use, poverty, water and environment, as well as prepared material to promote and support DRR in Namibian schools.

Through involvement in climate change studies in 2011, Umvoto Africa completed a study into sea level rise and flooding risks associated with climate change for vulnerable coastlines in the Western Cape, before developing a monitoring and evaluation system for the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan. Umvoto Africa’s founder Rowena Hay has prepared United Nations sanctioned guidelines for African community leaders to support environmental protection, poverty reduction and adaptation to climate change. In collaboration with Dr Chris Hartnady, she contributed to the UNEP guidelines on mainstream DRR for sustainable African development.

Umvoto Africa also incorporates gender and social studies into its DRR work. The social, cultural and economic contributions of women are increasingly being acknowledged in approaches to current global crises. Umvoto Africa conducted a study on social vulnerability in relation to water and baseline studies for a workshop on Women in Science and Technology in the SADC Region. We are an international voice for gender mainstreaming and gender-specific initiatives, having made significant contributions as consultants to the United Nation’s gender programmes worldwide. In 2005, Rowena Hay attended the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Japan at the invitation of the UNISDR Africa office to present a paper on “Gender in Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa”. In 2009 she presented another paper relating to climate change on behalf of the UNISDR in Beijing, at the International Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Gender.

Umvoto’s geoinformatics team plays an integral support role to other departments while offering geographical information system (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) services directly to external parties. The geoinformatics team actively uses GIS/RS to better understand our environment, either as part of ongoing scientific research or to better meet our client’s needs. We undertake in-house research and development to solve challenges unique to our clients and to ensure better delivery of outputs, which support decision making throughout all stages of a project. One such example is the novel use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to monitor for surface deformation related to groundwater abstraction from confined aquifers in South Africa.

By combining Umvoto Africa’s earth science expertise with GIS/RS, we regularly produce scientifically sound geodatabases which are frequently used by the scientific community. Umvoto Africa routinely provides geospatial solutions in support of groundwater exploration and development, environmental planning and mapping, geohazard assessment as well as urban planning. The team has extensive expertise in spatial analysis, suitability assessments, terrain mapping, geomorphological analysis and hydrological modelling. 

The social, cultural and economic contributions of women are increasingly being acknowledged in approached to current global crises. Umvoto conducted a study vulnerability in relation to water and baseline studies for a workshop on Women in Science and Technology in the SADC region.  We are an international voice for gender mainstreaming and gender-specific initiatives, having made significant contributions as consultants to the UN’s gender programmes worldwide.  In 2005, Rowena Hay attended the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Japan at the invitation of the UNISDR Africa office to present a paper on “Gender in Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa”. In 2009 she presented another paper relating to climate change on behalf of the UNISDR in Beijing, at the International Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Gender. She cooperates with a variety of international, academic and civil society actors in this space.

Umvoto Africa undertakes environmental studies in support of its related activities while also offering consulting services to both governmental and private entities seeking environmental guidance. Our team members are qualified to provide specialist support in regulatory processes such as Environmental Management Plans (EMPs), Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), licence audits, performance assessments and small-scale mining right applications. Our Environmental Control Officers (ECOs) are trained to provide supervision on site to ensure the regulatory compliance of all activities.

Umvoto Africa undertakes field work and designs ecological monitoring stations in remote areas for the monitoring of environmental conditions and potential impacts. The ecological data recorded at these eco-sites include surface stream flow, groundwater depths, chemistry of ground and surface water, soil moisture, biological health indicators for aquatic ecosystems and vegetation surveys, all of which are important in terms of understanding the impacts of human activities on the natural environment.

Our Environmental Science and Monitoring department also specialises in the design, construction and installation of meteorological weather stations for various uses (e.g. groundwater recharge estimation, air quality surveillance, climatological studies etc.). Our team members have assembled, installed and operated weather stations in a wide variety of environments, from Antarctica to the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia. We have expertise in water resource monitoring and management using sophisticated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and telemetry systems.

The Environmental and Climate Division of Umvoto provides consultancy services to construct and monitor weather stations in several locations ranging from the mountainous regions of the Western Cape to the lowland deserts of Northern Ethiopia.  These fully automatic stations provide a multitude of parameters at hourly resolution which are remotely monitored via GPRS cellular networks. The data provides input to the Umvoto GIS and Modelling Divisions which in turn supports our Hydrological team.  Parameters include rainfall, temperature, evaporation and evapotranspiration, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and solar radiation. Umvoto is geared to provide a turnkey approach to the weather station solution, commencing with procurement, construction, advice and maintenance support, and climate/meteorological reporting and analysis.

To meet the growing concern around water resource and soil contamination Umvoto Africa offers the full suite of assessments building on our expertise in geological and hydrogeological processes. Umvoto Africa’s strength is our proven experience in soil, surface water and groundwater assessments; the interactions between these; and the associated impacts and required mitigation measures. Umvoto Africa has experience in most priority contaminants, with capability in due diligence, desktop and intrusive assessments (including soil sampling, monitoring well drilling and sampling), remediation, contaminant fate and transport modelling and environmental monitoring. Predictive modelling tools are used to assess contamination pathways, with a view to design the most appropriate remediation measures. This experience helps our various industrial clients identify, prevent, mitigate, and remediate environmental impacts to limit their environmental, reputational, and financial risks.