Water Research Group

About us
Research Activities
Contact us


Proceedings of Water Research showcase
Slide show from Water Research showcase
WRS2012 call for extended abstracts
WRS2012 layout guidelines for extended abstract 

About us


The Water Research Group (WRG) promotes the highest level of intellectual discourse, training and research on water issues from an integrated and all-encompassing outlook, aiming to achieve equitable, efficient and sustainable use of the water resources that are within and outside the borders of South Africa.

Broad mission objectives of the Group include:

  • Train a new generation of water professionals at undergraduate (link to undergraduate programme) and postgraduate (link to postgraduate programme) levels with skills capable of addressing the millennium development goals (MDG) in the water and sanitation sectors.
  • Carry out cutting-edge multidisciplinary research in hydraulics, hydrology, water resources planning and management, urban, peri-urban, and rural water supply and sanitation, environmental sustainability, drought and risk mitigation, and social and economic linkages with water issues.  By our multidisciplinary approach to training and research activities, the group collaborates with other research groups nationally, regionally and internationally.
  • Constructive engagement with industry in the training of students using practical case-studies which enhance the hands-on experiences of our graduates, and as well as in addressing the needs of industry through research.  The Group also provides continuing education for practising engineers through well suited professional training modules.
  • Serve the communities of South Africa and beyond through action-based research and developmental activities that ensure greater access to potable water and sanitation facilities, more productive use of water, and attainment of social and gender equity, thereby enhancing the wellbeing and living standards of those communities, particularly vulnerable groups.


Prof. Akpofure E. Taigbenu, Pr Eng
Ph.D (Cornell, USA ’85), M.S (Cornell, USA ’83), B.Sc Hons (Unilag, Nigeria ’78)

Prof. Chris S. James
Ph.D (WITS, SA), M.S (Colorado State, USA), B.Sc (Eng) (WITS, SA)

Assoc/Prof. John G Ndiritu
Senior Lecturer in Water Engineering
Ph.D (Adelaide, Australia ’98), M.Sc (Nairobi, Kenya ’93), B.Sc Hons (Nairobi, Kenya ’87)
Email: john.ndiritu@

Assoc/Prof. Adesola Ilemobade
Senior Lecturer, Municipal and Water Engineering
Ph.D (WITS, SA ’03), M.Eng (FUTA, Nigeria ’97), B.Eng Hons (Unilorin, Nigeria, ‘92).

Technical Staff

Wayne Costopoulos, Senior Technician

Mhlayiphela Joseph Sishi, Assistant Technician

Research Areas

  •  Eco-hydrology and hydraulics
  •  River hydraulics
  •  Sedimentation
  •  Urban water management
  •  Computational hydraulics
  •  Hydrological modelling
  •  Water resource systems optimization
  •  Climate change impacts
  •  Water supply and distribution systems design and operation
  •  Non-potable/ grey water reuse
  •  Water demand modeling;
  •  Water resources planning and management
  •  Flow and contaminant transport in groundwater systems
  •  Non-potable water reuse planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation

Current Research Activities

Phase 2 Challenge Program on Water & Food - Targeting and Scaling out 

After successfully completing Phase 1 of the Challenge Program on water & food (PN17: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for Improved Rural Livelihoods in the Limpopo Basin), we have partnered with the Stockholm Environment Institute (Leader), International Water Management Institute and Waternet on Phase 2 of the Limpopo basin development challenge (BDC) research project – Targeting and Scaling out –  addressing improving rainwater and small reservoir management for poverty reduction and improved livelihoods resilience in the Limpopo basin.  Prof Taigbenu coordinates this project in the School.

Ecohydraulics Research

Coordinated by Prof. C.S. James, this research is being carried out through the Centre for Water in the Environment, an interdisciplinary, trans-faculty research group directed by Professor Kevin Rogers of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences and co-directed by Prof. James.

Computational methods

Following the published text of Prof. Taigbenu on The Green Element Method, Kluwer Academic Press, Boston, USA, 1999, current research efforts are addressing quite intriguing problems, among which are linear and nonlinear potential flows, heat transfer, and contaminant transport, inverse problems, etc.  These problems are addressed in homogeneous and heterogeneous domains.

Engineering Optimization

Dr Ndiritu is researching on the application of genetic algorithms and other evolutionary techniques to catchment model calibration and other optimization problems. A hybrid automatic-manual calibration software has been developed and is currently being applied in a study seeking to identify appropriate daily catchment models for ungauged and data-scarce catchments in southern Africa.  Dr Ilemobade and Dr Ndiritu worked on a project to evaluate genetic algorithms for least cost design of water distribution systems. Dr Ilemobade has developed several software to facilitate the optimization of major water supply system components

Incorporating uncertainties in hydrological modelling

Water resource developments are often needed in ungauged or poorly gauged basins and the required modelling needs to comprehensively incorporate the large uncertainties involved for effective decision making. Dr Ndiritu is researching on the selection of appropriate models and the application of fuzzy inference and Bayes theorem-based methods for incorporating uncertainties in hydrological modelling.

Stochastic data generation using non-parametric methods

Streamflow and rainfall data are often inadequate spatially and temporally, and need to be extended for water resources planning and management. Typically, non-parametric approaches are simpler to understand and implement and make less subjective assumptions than the more predominant parametric approaches. Dr Ndiritu is researching on the application of non-parametric methods for streamflow and rainfall data generation with an emphasis on increasing the effectiveness of bootstrap-based approaches.

Greywater reuse for toilet flushing and irrigation in residential and non-residential buildings

Two pilot greywater reuse systems were implemented at the WITS School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and at a 16 student unit of the Student Town residence at the University of Johannesburg. At WITS, greywater is generated from only bathroom hand basins, sieved and disinfected, and used to flush 2 toilets. At UJ, greywater is generated from bath tubs and showers only and is sieved, disinfected and used for flushing 2 toilets within the unit. The objectives of the project include developing reliable models for predicting toilet flushing trends for both user categories, monitoring and evaluating user perceptions to greywater reuse for toilet flushing and evaluating the economic and financial viability of the greywater project. Separate projects involving the irrigation of vegetables with the different greywater qualities are also currently ongoing.  Dr Ilemobade leads this research initiative.



Recent publications of the group can be accessed from the pages of members of the group.

Contact us

Prof. A.E Taigbenu
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand.
Private Bag 3, WITS 2050. Johannesburg
Tel: 27 (0)11 7177136
Email: akpofure.taigbenu@

Prof. C. S. James
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand.
Private Bag 3, WITS 2050. Johannesburg
Tel: 27 (0)11 7177115
Fax: 27 (0)11 7177045