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Urban Water Management

This interdisciplinary group seeks integrated sustainable solutions to the problems of water management in urban areas, in particular those in southern Africa.

It supports the aim of 'Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM, which includes the management of freshwater, wastewater and stormwater as links within the resource management structure, using an urban area as the unit of management' (UNEP, 2003). This may also be described as 'the holistic management of water in the urban environment so as to minimise the impact on rural water resources (quantity and quality), and maximise its utility within the town or city'. Particular focus is placed on the urban drainage (sewerage and stormwater management) aspect of the urban water cycle as this is more difficult to manage than the water supply side.

A core group of academics, comprising Professor Neil Armitage (Civil Engineering), Associate Professor Andrew Spiegel (Social Anthropology), and Dr Kevin Winter (Environmental and Geographical Science) provides leadership. Experts from a range of other disciplines, such as freshwater ecology, epidemiology and economics, also contribute as required.

The group is also closely linked with the African Centre for Cities and the associated Urban Infrastructure Design and Management programme. Postgraduate students are encouraged to register for some of the core courses of this programme. 

Some past and current projects include:

  • The control and removal of litter from urban drainage systems
  • The management of grey water in the non-sewered areas of South Africa.
  • The use of permeable road pavements for stormwater management
  • The development of sustainability and risk indicators for urban water management
  • Water-sensitive urban design and sustainable drainage systems, and
  • Alternative sanitation systems.

Each year, the following specialist courses are offered:

Integrated Urban Water Management (CIV5107Z)

Date to be announced. Prerequisite – any suitable first degree. 12 credits. Substantial hand outs leading to four assignments.
Course outline: Introduction to Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) - the urban water cycle (description, social imperatives, environmental considerations, and economic challenges); water supply ( availability, service levels, and technical options); free basic water, demand management, loss control, use of recycled water;  sewage (public health considerations, service levels and technical options, the dry-versus-wet sanitation debate, social acceptance, and grey water management); drainage (service levels and technical options, sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), urban litter management, urban rivers, risk management, and groundwater issues); management ( water sensitive urban design, introduction to asset management, GIS as a water management tool, and sustainability indicators).
Assessment: Oral presentation, exam, written assignment

Additional courses may be taken at the University of Stellenbosch by prior agreement which can count towards the completion of the degree.

Contact: Professor Neil Armitage