"Thank you for this mind-boggling presentation"
Mr Kwazi Majola (Gauteng Branch Chair) thanked Dr Khuliso Masindi after he shared with attendees on latest GRACE research results.

ABOUT THE TALK The Vaal River Basin (VRB) is a key economic zone in the interior of South Africa; it is marked by intense mining, industrial, and agricultural activities. It experiences a predominantly semi-arid climate with an average annual rainfall of 570 mm. Population increase and the recurrence of drought places water supplies under pressure. Increasing groundwater use in the VRB as an alternative water source can reduce pressure on water supplies. The successful development and use of groundwater in the basin will largely depend on improved understanding of the groundwater system. The purpose of the study was to quantify the groundwater storage and to assess the effects of both human and natural stressors on groundwater resources. Groundwater storage was estimated by subtracting soil moisture and surface water storage from the Grace Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) based terrestrial water storage. The GRACE-based groundwater storage was estimated to be 39.72 km3 from 2003 to 2014 with an increase of 3.31 km3/year. The GRACE groundwater storage captures annual variability in water storage distribution. The GRACE groundwater storage also mimics the rainfall amount with a time lag of less than six months. The findings of the study shows that the GRACE-derived data is inapplicable for smaller catchment. The GRACE groundwater storage was not validated in the current study because of the sparsity of groundwater level data in the basin. This study demonstrates that the gravimetric data derived from the GRACE satellite provide an opportunity to assess groundwater storage changes in large basins (150 000 km2). The application of integrated approaches that involve space-based observations such as gravimetric data from the GRACE satellite and ground data to study groundwater systems in complex basins is of great value in data-scarce basins. The space-based observations are not a replacement of ground monitoring and collection of hydrological data, more effort must be directed to collecting and monitoring groundwater data to help understand how the quantity of groundwater is evolving in real time for better groundwater management.

Question & Answer session

Q - Mothatego: when doing the comparison of TWSAWb vs GRACETWSa there was some kind of "INVESION" or disagreement between 03 and 05 e.g TWSAWb showing increase while GRACETWSa showing decrease. What could be the significance of that? A( summerised) : GRACE data is not only looking at the area but also possible contributions by the surrounding catchments. There is a resolution challenge. The GRACE is not applicable for smaller scale as also reported by other studies across the world. Bigger regions with large fluctuations and water movements will benefit from GRACE.

Q: What about the influence of mining activities? A: Yes, that will have influence but it was not the specific focus of this study. There is another study where we are looking at groundwater levels 40 years of data where we did see a decrease in mining activities in some areas did result in the increase in water levels and when we take into account the other parameters also there was an increase but looking specifically at GRACE data we can see that it is not massive events. On a larger scale it is coarse but on local scale it will make a difference.

Q - Zaheed: Good afternoon. Thank you for this insightful work. I myself worked extensively with GRACE data across SA, and we worked with down-scaling in particular and I am glad that you mentioned it. Looking at the trend we see an increase in groundwater storage in some parts of Africa across the years and when we look at the downscale data in terms of groundwater levels - it is actually declining over the years. Our opinion on that is that on the local scale pumping has a great influence on our groundwater levels but regionally there seems to be more groundwater in our basins than there was before. Any comments on that? A: *____.. I agree and we can chat more about the down-scaling techniques that you use (Regional vs Local scale) , this and we can learn more together on how to use space base observation in general .

Q - Kwazi: GRACE sees water. How deep does GRACE go? Shallow to deep aquifers?

Q- via Registration: What is the interaction between groundwater and surface water in the area? Can the results be used in the Water Use license granting or applications?

Interested to learn more? Please feel free to contact Dr Masindi via

Talk Resources


And Final Words. 01/06/2021 ..pending

and again updated many times final was 29/30 May, I think

updated 19/05/2021
Contributions welcome


"We know a great deal about Groundwater Systems in South Africa, but there is still much more to learn."



So what happens with all the groundwater knowledge in South Africa?  
MNel, GWD Article Archive 2019

So what happens with all the groundwater knowledge in South Africa? I’m not talking about speculation, gut-feeling or divine interventions; I’m talking proven methodology and verifiable data. Since there is no doubt that consulting firms, the (permanently understaffed) DWS and the tertiary institutions are flocked with hydrogeologial projects, there should be an enormous amount of scientific output. So where to look? And for what? Peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals are probably the best measure of output we currently have.

The Web of Science (WoS) is a rich collection of citation indexes representing the citation connections between scholarly research articles found in the most globally significant journals, books, and proceedings in the sciences, social sciences and art & humanities, and includes South African Journals. The total file count of the WoS is >90 million records, which include over a billion cited references. Publications in the Science category are indexed from 1900 – present together with all authors as well as their affiliations. So you can pretty much argue that you will be able to get all published articles in accredited journals on ‘groundwater’ in South Africa in this database. And you can retrieve some pretty interesting statistics from it…

from MNel 2019. ES

Which is exactly what I did. (The search methodology I followed can be discussed over wine, should you be interested). For now, I would like to highlight a few interesting results:

Some more analysis and statistics are available, but that would ask for quite a lengthy discussion.

So what?

Producing (open-access) articles in an consultancy environment is technically impossible. Mainly due to client confidentiality, but probably also because there is little to no incentive for an over-committed hydrogeologist to write papers.  In essence, there are plenty of knowledge and data “lost” in these confidential reports.  Kudos to Water SA (WRC) for being the loudest scientific voice for groundwater, let us all strengthen their presence and credibility on the international publication scene.

Water SA link:
Water SA link :

A paper is a comprehensive contribution to the subject, including introduction, experimental information and discussion of results.  (Technical accounts involving application of well-known techniques, and situation assessment/observation/sampling papers reporting results of work not carried out as a research activity, cannot be considered.)

A review is an authoritative, critical account of recent and current research in a specific field to which the author has made notable contributions.  

A short communication is a concise account of new and significant findings to inform readers of preliminary or limited research results.  

A rapid communication is an original contribution which merits prompt publication to publicise the findings of very recent research with immediate significance.  

A technical note describes an original process or technique without necessarily including extensive data, theory or critical evaluation. Comments on papers already published are sent to the authors of the paper for reply and both the comments and the authors’ reply will be published in the upcoming issue of Water SA. Preference is given to concise contributions.

We need juniors to also publish papers that can be peer-reviewed, compared and consolidated; otherwise we will only continue to fragment and weaken the knowledge base of the profession. And let alternative earth scientists and divine beings be the voice for groundwater in South Africa.

The Business End of Research

Can't speak Research and NOT mention the South African
Water Research Commission.

Live Presentation by Dr Shafick Adams (WRC Municipal Workshop) . Dr S Adams- 2019/2020 Groundwater Research Portfolio Manager, Water Research Commission. " Groundwater in South Africa: A story of Hope"

The WRC hereby announces the Annual Call for project proposals for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2022. All annual project budgets will be required to coincide with the WRC's financial year which is from 1 April to 31 March. The start and end dates of project contracts are however flexible. Project proposals in response to both the Open Call and the Directed Call can be submitted on-line from 1 June 2021.


Why do we do research?

To gain accumulative knowledge about specific topics / issues so that we can learn from the spectrum between what has been done/ learnt/ successful, and what can ultimately be possible/ move forward on existing next solving/ applying it to specific challenges?

What did we learn about/ what are we learning about?

Groundwater Groups share TOP 3 Reading list

"The investigation of aquifer potential is the core of hydrogeological science and much of a hydrogeologists’ formal training is focussed on this technical area. If we hope to be able to make full assessments of available groundwater resources around the country we will need ‘more of the same’ in terms of strong hydrogeological expertise, mainly in the consulting field, and a significant increase in geophysical capacity."


Reading List


Where would I go to find the latest fruits of the tree(s) of knowledge?

The top 6 institutions producing publications on groundwater are: UFS (IGS), CSIR, UKZN, WITS, UWC and UP.

CSIR ResearchSpace
Launching in the New Month Another of our THEMES MEMES

National Chairperson: Mr Fanus Fourie
Vice-Chairperson: Ms Nicolette Vermaak
National Treasurer: Mr Yazeed van Wyk
National Secretariat: Dr Jaco Nel
National Coordinator: Ms Elanda Schaffner

Please contact this Committee via [email protected]

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