The idea of forming a professional society for geohydrologists in South Africa was first raised in 1977 during discussions between officials from the then Department of Water Affairs and staff at the Department of Geology, University of the Orange Free State. From the start it was thought that such a group could form part of the Geological Society of South Africa. Consultation with the Geological Society commenced in 1977, and a draft constitution was drawn up in consultation with the Society with the view of forming a specialist division of the Society.
After the conclusion of a colloquium on 29 November 1978, organised by the Branch of Scientific Services of the Department of Water Affairs to specifically address groundwater issues, a meeting was held to discuss the formation of an association for geohydrologists. This meeting, under the chairmanship of Mr J R Vegter, was attended by 56 persons and culminated in the formation of the third specialist division of the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) and is referred to as the Ground Water Division of the GSSA. At this meeting a working Committee comprising of Mr J R Vegter (Chairman). Mr W R G Orpen (Secretary) and two additional members, Prof B T Verhagen and Mr M N Sara, was formed.
In February 1979 membership stood at 53 and the Division started its activities with a bank balance of R50,55.
Click here to learn more about the history of the Division as prepared by Reinie Meyer extracted from the publication: A Century of Geological Endeavour in Southern Africa, 1895-1995 C. R. Anhaeusser Geological Society of South Africa, 01 Jan 1997
The National Branch (Gauteng)
The Ground Water Division was established in 1978 by members of the ground water community of South Africa and the Directorate of Geohydrology, Department of Water Affairs.
The National branch has an overall administrative function which comprises the maintenance of memberships, the upkeep and support of communication / information channels, financial and general assistance to branches as well as overall financial reporting to the GSSA.
The Western Cape Branch
One of the most established and active branches launched under the first chairman, Peter Rosewarne. (1988/89)
The branch continued its momentum ever since and under the respective chairmanship of John MC Weaver (1990-1996), LGA (Gordon) Maclear (1996-1998), JM (Jan) Rasmussen (1998-2000), RP (Roger) Parsons (2000-2004) and Mr Julian Conrad (2004-2008), a number of initiatives such as "Introduction to Groundwater" short courses, regular late afternoon seminars, bi-monthly groundwater talks and one day conferences, followed.
The Central Branch (Bloemfontein)
The Central Branch, established shortly after the Ground Water 2005 Conference (Gauteng), became the driver and main coordinator for the Ground Water 2007 Conference that was hosted in Bloemfontein from 8-10 October 2007.
The Central Branch of the Groundwater Division consists of members from the Free State, Northern Cape and North West Provinces.
Under the visionary leadership of Mr Cedric Nelson, the immediate past chair from 2006-2008, this branch grew substantially following the very successful 2005 Conference. The Conference theme: “An Africa where groundwater is valued and sustainably managed by empowered stakeholders” drew 254 delegates not only from South Africa but also Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. This conference was also instrumental to ensure a higher level of awareness with the former Minister of Water Affairs & Forestry, Me Lindiwe Hendricks attending.
Eastern Cape Branch
This Branch of the Division originated from the Eastern Cape Ground Water Forum. This forum consisted of all interest groups in the region (consultants, drillers, academics, scientists etc.) and had regular meetings with the Department Water Affairs as well as a yearly function for all its members. They received regular sponsorship and all members assumed ownership of the forum.
Under the 2 year Chairmanship of Mr Ettiene Mouton, the GW Forum joined the GWD formally in 2007. In 2008, Mr Hanco Roux was elected as new Branch Chair with Mrs Sharon Swarts as secretary. For the period of 2010-2013 the Eastern Cape branch was administered by Mr Gert Nel.
In 2014, the GWD Eastern Cape welcomed Mr Jan Myburgh as the newly elected GWD Eastern Cape Chair. Mr Myburgh renewed commitment to branch activities in the region (that currently includes KZN).