Future of Water Resources Research and Innovation Strengthened by Renewal of Chair at UKZN

Umgeni Water has extended their funding of UKZN water resources management, innovation and research for a further 10 years.

The Chair in Water Resources Management at UKZN was created in 2011 for a 10-year period thanks to financial support from Umgeni Water which has now provided funds for the renewal of the agreement which sees a Chair in Water Resources Research and Innovation established for a further 10-year period from April 2021.

The Chair is located in the School of Engineering at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The focus of the Chair is to develop a world-class research group and deliver high impact innovative and use-inspired research outputs, thus contributing to the development of water scientists, engineers and researchers to create a growing knowledge economy to meet the challenge of sustainable water resources.

Professor Jeff Smithers, who was appointed as the Umgeni Water Chair of Water Resources Research and Innovation on 1 February, 2021, is also the Director of the Centre for Water Resources Research, which is active in research, teaching and capacity-building related to hydrology and water resources research.

In South Africa and beyond, water is a limited, highly variable and critical resource required for food production and to sustain life. The demand for water – which currently exceeds available resources in many regions as well as ageing, deteriorating and poorly managed water infrastructure, limited resources and expertise to sustainably manage water resources, and poor implementation of policy, are areas of concern.

To meet these challenges, Smithers sees national capacity development and the creation of new knowledge and innovative approaches as high priority areas. Work in these areas will be furthered though undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research focused on the development of appropriate and innovative solutions for sustainable, good quality water resources.

With its wide range of water-related expertise and in support of its vision to be the Premier University of African Scholarship, UKZN is actively involved in water-related teaching, research and outreach activities throughout Africa and beyond.

Smithers aims to promote closer collaboration between Umgeni Water and UKZN in research and technological development on local, national and international water related issues.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied