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Water and Water Quality

UFS strip research

Several researchers at the university are conducting research on water and water quality. With Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the United Nations in mind, the research on water and water quality is not only improving the environment but is also key to finding solutions that will ensure adequate supply of clean water for everyone – having an impact locally and globally.

Some of this research contributes to water resource management in South Africa, with special reference to the field of biological passive wastewater treatment. One of the research focus areas is the use of freshwater algae to treat acid mine drainage or domestic wastewater. Recent publications include the Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa, sponsored by the African Development Bank and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which is a first for Africa.

Recent research has been conducted by the Centre for Environmental Management at the phycoremediation pilot plant in Mossel Bay, related to the reuse of domestic wastewater and the use of the algae biomass for biofuel and biofertiliser.

The UFS also celebrated the establishment of a Mineral Biogeochemistry Research Infrastructure Platform. This structure, funded by the Department of Science and Innovation, is part of a national platform to promote the science of biogeochemistry as a strategic objective in South Africa. The Centre for Mineral Biogeochemistry is facilitating the Mineral BIOGRIP Node, which, among others, develops sustainable water treatment options using biogeochemical processes in engineered technology. CMBG is also focused on agricultural bio-augmentation research with industry partners to help ensure long-term food security in South Africa and the larger Africa.

Furthermore, the UFS is home to the Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS), a leading groundwater research group in Africa on aspects related to fractured rock aquifers, industrial and mining contamination, groundwater governance, and groundwater resources. The IGS water research laboratory has ISO 17025 accreditation from the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) for all methods used in the IGS.  With this accreditation, the IGS laboratory is setting itself apart from its competitors and will continue with its contract research on water-related topics in the mining and industrial sectors.

Research is also being conducted on the relationship between soil morphology and soil hydrology. It can mostly be applied to hydropedology, wetland delineation, urban development, mining EIAs, irrigation scheduling, and soil classification.


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