Department of Water and Sanitation launches HydroNET for all South African Water Management Areas

The South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) recently launched the HydroNET Water Control Room at a festive ceremony in Pretoria. All nine of the country’s Water Management Areas now have access to the weather and water information they need to make weather-ready and climate-smart decisions for sustainably managing precious water resources.

Every raindrop counts

South Africa suffers from water stress. To efficiently manage the available water resources and reduce climate- and weather-related impacts, water managers need access to historical, current and forecast water and weather information. HydroNET is a web-based decision-support system that provides intelligent solutions for operational and strategic water management. It combines weather information from the South African Weather Service (SAWS) with water information from the DWS and adds models and local knowledge to generate personalised overviews, forecasts and warnings. This added-value information is available via dashboards and reports and empowers water managers to make well-informed decisions.

Successful South African – Dutch cooperation

In 2013, SAWS, HydroLogic, eLEAF, the Dutch water authorities and the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) launched a pilot to demonstrate the benefits of the HydroNET Water Control Room for South Africa. Since then, 252 South African and 83 Dutch colleagues have worked together to connect over 40 local data sets and implement dashboards and reports tailored to the needs of South African water managers. In 2017, the consortium won the prestigious ‘Partners for Water Award’ for this demonstration project. The HydroNET Water Control Room is now available to all nine Water Management Areas.

Last week, over 150 South African water managers were trained to optimally benefit from the SAWS information, which is easily accessible via HydroNET. Information on irrigated water use, water availability, water quality and other relevant data will be connected to HydroNET in the next few months, and more training sessions will be organised.

HydroNET training South-Africa

Over 150 South African water managers were trained to optimally benefit from the SAWS information.

Mutual benefits

As Leanne Reichard, Business Director of HydroNET, comments, “I’m extremely proud that over 300 South African and Dutch colleagues have been able to work together to provide South African water managers with a practical solution that supports them before, during and after weather- and climate-related events. There are lots of mutual benefits from our cooperation and we’ve learnt a lot from our South African colleagues. I’m pleased to see, for example, that the water auditing application developed in South Africa to monitor irrigated water use is now also going to be implemented in the Netherlands to support Dutch water managers during droughts. This way, Dutch water management will also benefit substantially from our success in South Africa.”

The implementation of HydroNET in South Africa is being supported by the DWS, with close involvement of European Space Agency (ESA), SAWS, the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency, HydroLogic, eLEAF and the Dutch water authorities.