As noted, AWARD supports the development of holistic basin-wide management for the Olifants River Catchment. Ensuring that this is embedded within an adaptive management cycle is key to building resilience through action and learning. Monitoring, for example, whilst an important activity, is of little value unless it is embedded in a responsive system that is linked to action and change. To this end our work aims to develop and test (a) an integrated water resource decision-support system (INWaRDS) that integrates both water quality and quantity that is (b) embedded in a wider governance system so as to enable responsive, strategic adaptive management processes

INWaRDS has its early evolution in technical and stakeholder-centred processes in the Crocodile Catchment which is managed by the IUCMA and has been further developed under RESILIM-O within the Olifants. Its addresses three key issues:

  • The need to monitor against benchmarks in real-time so as to facilitate rapid action
  • The need to integrate water quantity and quality
  • The need to consider climate change scenarios

The InWaRDSS project consists of a number of key activities that all support governance through short and long term water resources planning as well as historic and near real-time compliance monitoring. The InWaRDSS comprises of the elements:

  1. Developing Decision Support Dashboards
  2. Establishing a near real-time system,
  3. Implementing an early warning system,
  4. Supporting IWRM through modelling key issues for water resource protection and climate change impacts

Integrated Water Resource Decision-Support (InWaRDs) dashboards

Dissemination of information is key to water resource management, yet the Olifants River Basin (ORB) currently has no dedicated water quality and quantity decision support system (tools, methods and protocols). Given this, a suite of integrated water resource decision-support dashboards (INWaRDS) are being developed as tools supporting an Integrated Water resources Management System. It is currently being tested by the Lower Olifants River Operations Committee (LOROC), and by the OCMA, after which it is hoped that the dashboard will be used as the standard tool to guide water resource managers in making short- and long-term strategic adaptive operational decisions.

AWARD will be running four training modules in the use of the IWRM-DSS for the Olifants River Catchment during 2017.

The following dashboards have been developed to date:

  1. ) Desktop dashboard
  2. The dashboard boasts the capabilities of a rapid overview of EWR flow compliance (A), rapid dam level assessment (B), flow gauge time series compliance analysis for historical and near-real-time data (C) and a water quality assessment tool (D).

  3. ) Mobile application known as Flow Tracker
  4. This android application can be downloaded from here. It allows the user to

    - view the current flows at all gauges in the catchment;

    - view compliance of the observed flows against EWR standards (Error! Reference source not found. B);

    - view the current status of dam levels in the catchment;

    - View projected precipitation for up to two weeks in advance. D). In addition, it allows the user to share the information through social media platforms such as WhatsApp (a WhatsApp group currently exists for the river operations of the lower Olifants River Catchment) or/and email.

Box 1: 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, and in support of good, adaptive governance we started work on securing a shift of water use from the Blyde to the De Hoop Dam (currently at 42% capacity) to augment flows in the lower Olifants. If the dam drops below 25% water cannot be abstracted for irrigation, placing 10 000 permanent and seasonal jobs at risk. In response to requests by DWS, and a letter from the Acting Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park and recommending the use of the RESILIM-O model to achieve this, DWS agreed. A major success for RESILIM-O has been the acceptance of these recommendations and the release of water from the De Hoop Dam on the 23rd of September 2016. AWARD has been given the responsibility of monitoring the flows and running the RESILIM-O De Hoop release model when necessary to recommend further releases until we are out of the emergency state. The dam releases resulted in the Environmental Water Requirement (EWR) being met at Kruger National Park’s Environmental Water Requirements site, Mamba Weir – a major success in a time of drought! In order to help institutionalise the above tools and protocols, a model/tools training session was held in Nelspruit in September.