Schools Menu


The Department was created in 1999 to focus on training in the areas of hydrology and water resources, with emphasis on surface water hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology, water supply and sanitation, water resources management (including management of resource quantity and quality), fluid dynamics and water treatment processes .

The Department offers a four-year professional degree awarded as honours degree, with classification as distinction or pass. The Department also offers masters and doctorate qualifications. The Department first admitted students on the four year professional degree qualification in the year 2000 and masters' by research students in the year 2002.


To produce high quality graduates with theoretical and applied knowledge and research experience to work as hydrologists, hydrogeologists, meteorologists, and water resource management and supply experts in private and public service, and academic and research institutions.


To provide four year professional degree training and carry out research at postgraduate level in hydrology and water resources with focus on basic and applied aspects of surface water hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology, fluid mechanics, and water resource quantity and quality management and supply.

Four year Professional Degree (BESHWR)

Matric passes at D (HG) or C (SG) in Physical Science and D (HG) or C (SG) in one of the following matric subjects: Accounting, Agricultural Sciences, Biology, Mathematics, Economics and Geography. Students who fail to meet these requirements in matric can obtain equivalent passes by taking physics, chemistry and mathematics in the one year foundation programme offered in the University.

BEHHWR (Hons), MSc and PhD Programmes

The students wishing to pursue BEHHWR (Hons), MSc and PhD programmes must have obtained at least 60% in a relevant undergraduate degree, honours and masters programmes respectively.

The department of Hydrology and Water Resources offers the following modules:

HWR 1541: Introductory Hydrology & Meteorology

Definition and scope of Hydrology as an area of study; the hydrologic cycle; energy transformations and the water budget equation; the catchment and human interference; precipitation as a process; types of precipitation; artificially induced precipitation; measurement of precipitation; effective depth of precipitation; potential and actual evapo-transpiration and their measurement; factors influencing evaporation; increased water supplies through reduced evaporation; the runoff process; measurement of streamflow; the infiltration process; soil moisture, moisture storage and measurement; factors and elements of climate; impact of people on climate and the influence of climate on historical events; the atmosphere, its structure and composition; radiation, temperature, pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, clouds, air masses and fronts; measurements; weather maps.

Back to Top

HWR 1542: Introduction to Groundwater

The subject matter of hydrogeology; origin and occurrence of groundwater; porosity and hydraulic conductivity of earth materials; geologic formations as aquifers; types of aquifers; the water table; definition of the terms hydraulic head, hydraulic gradient, transmissivity, storage coefficient and specific yield; introduction to the fundamental principles of groundwater movement; Darcy's law and its application; borehole and well design, sitting, construction and operation; groundwater quality and pollution.

Back to Top

HWR 1641: Southern African Weather & Water Resources

Weather and climate in relation to the physical structure of the atmosphere, radiation in the atmosphere, radiation laws, cloud micro-physics and precipitation processes; factors of climate and climatic classification; regional distribution of climate around the world; seasons and weather in southern Africa; introduction to the analytical methods of climatology; nature and extent of the major surface-water and groundwater basins in southern Africa; introduction to cross-border water resources issues in the region; South Africa's water sources and their quality and availability, including rainwater as a resource.

Back to Top

HWR 1642: Water Quality Principles

The importance of water chemistry and microbiology in the management of water quality; units of chemical measurement; types of chemical reactions in water; redox reactions; gas and mass transfers; law of mass action; ionization and ion exchange; introduction to isotope hydrology; presentation of the results of chemical analyses; physical and microbial characteristics of water; fundamental principles of the microbial transformations of matter in natural processes and in biological treatment systems; South Africa's guidelines for the physical, microbiological and chemical quality of drinking water, within the context of the global guidelines of the World Health Organization.

Back to Top

HWR 2541: Rural Water Supply & Sanitation

The role of water in the community; water, sanitation, hygiene and human health; participatory planning and management of user-choice schemes; alternative rural water supply sources and selection of source; roof and ground catchments of rainwater, their storage and quality preservation; tapping gravity and artesian springs; methods of groundwater withdrawal, including dug wells and infiltration galleries; typical stream-water intake structures, small dams and village ponds; pumps for raising water, including hand-pumps, wind-pumps, hydraulic rams and solar pumps; common water treatment methods; water transmission, storage and distribution; technical and economic options of sanitation systems; participatory hygiene education.

Back to Top

HWR 2542: Data Information Systems

General considerations in water resource evaluation and associated data processing; data types and functional requirements for database management; basic statistical analysis and applications of statistical packages; elementary numerical methods and their relevance to hydrology and water resources; introduction to computer hardware and software, and to their use for the analysis of water resource survey data; basic principles of remote sensing and computer analysis of remotely-sensed data

Back to Top

HWR 2641: Water Laws & Institutions

Legal concepts and the legal framework relating to water as a resource; the property of water and the right to use; regulation of the quantity of surface-water and groundwater; protection of water quality; definition of the concepts and issues in the management of the resource; Water Policy and Law in South Africa; traditional institutional arrangements and alternative institutional structures; decentralization and user participation in technical, financial and administrative operations.

Back to Top

HWR 2642 : Drought Preparedness & Management

Local, regional and global climate variability; climate-related disasters, emphasizing droughts and wind erosion; major drought-afflicted areas, and frequency and causes of droughts; impacts of droughts on water availability and agricultural production in arid and semi-arid zones; long-term planning and early warning systems; drought monitoring and analysis; possibility of cloud seeding; rehabilitation and mitigation activities; local capacity building for community-level preparedness for, and management of, drought.

Back to Top

HWR 3541: Hydrologic Measurements

Hydrometric gauging networks and design considerations, including precipitation, evaporation, stream-flow and groundwater flow networks; rainfall storage gauges and rainfall recorders; sitting the rain-gauge; radar measurement; interpretation of precipitation data and estimation of missing data; double mass analysis; depth-area and depth-area-duration analyses; global geographic variations in precipitation; factors affecting evaporation and transpiration; measurement and computation of reservoir evaporation, transpiration and potential evaporation; stream gauging using manual and recording methods; current-metre measurements of discharge; stage-discharge relationships and extension of rating curves; soil moisture retention, movement and measurement.

Back to Top

HWR 3542: Atmospheric Dynamics

In-depth treatment of gas laws; atmosphere thermodynamics and stability; cloud dynamics and adiabatic charts; atmospheric motion and the governing laws; planetary and secondary circulation; jet streams; vorticity; cyclogenesis; meteorological instruments and their operations; weather maps and data exchange; codes and plotting of charts.

Back to Top

HWR 3543: Fluid Mechanics

Physical properties of water; hydrostatic pressure and forces; hydrodynamic concepts and measurements; flow in pipes and resistance to flow; total head losses and energy gradient lines; types of open channels and measurement of flow; hydraulics of open channel flow; the concepts and computations of specific energy and hydraulic jump.

Back to Top

HWR 3641: Hydrologic Analysis

Relationships between precipitation and runoff; surface retention and runoff mechanisms and components; estimation of the volume of storm runoff; hydrograph analysis and separation; the concept of the unit hydrograph and its derivation; conversion of the unit hydrograph duration; application of unit hydrographs; waves in natural channels and their movement; non-storage routing; flood routing through level-pool reservoirs and river channels; hydraulic routing, its governing equations and numerical solution techniques; types of deterministic models; conceptual catchment modelling; model input parameters, calibration and predictive simulation; limitations of the modelling process.

Back to Top

HWR 3642: Hydrogeology

Geology of groundwater occurrence; properties of aquifers and their determination; heterogeneity and anisotropy as aquifer characteristics; Darcy's Law and its applicability; equations describing groundwater movement; flow lines and flow nets; equilibrium and non-equilibrium hydraulics of wells; geological and geophysical field investigation techniques; hydrogeologic site evaluation; aquifer potential, its safe yield, artificial recharge and the possibility of saline intrusion; groundwater model types and their use and misuse; water well drilling, completion and development; groundwater regions of South Africa.

Back to Top

HWR 3643: Water Quality Management

Chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics of water and wastewater; water quality variables and monitoring; water quality requirements; erosion and sediment yield; solute transport; types and classification of pollutants; legal and institutional framework for water pollution control; standards and regulations; public health and environmental impacts of water pollution; surface-water and groundwater quality modeling.

Back to Top

HWR 4541: Applied Hydrology

Probability distributions, parameter estimation and probability plotting; probability as a hydrologic planning tool; probability of hydrologic events, including flood, runoff volume and precipitation; derivation of return period and regional flood frequency; hydrologic time series; time series analysis and synthesis, and their application; stochastic analysis of rainfall and streamflow; practical problems in hydrologic practice, including floodplain mapping and flood regulation, and the design of urban storm drainage, highway culverts, spillways and cooling ponds.

Back to Top

HWR 4542: Applied Hydrogeology

Principles of groundwater flow; solutions to equations of flow in confined and unconfined aquifers; computation of drawdown due to well pumping in various aquifer settings; determination of aquifer parameters from time-drawdown data under steady-state and non-equilibrium flow conditions; effect of partial well penetration; regional groundwater flow systems under steady-state and transient conditions; groundwater budgets and aquifer management; groundwater modelling and types of published numerical simulation models; finite difference and finite element approaches; data requirements and the accuracy of models; application of groundwater models; general application of hydrogeology to human concerns; business and ethical aspects of hydrogeologic practice.

Back to Top

HWR 4543: Water Supply Systems

Water uses and quantities; water characteristics, quality and treatment; bulk water supply systems and zoning; water demand and design period; types of water transmission conduits; transmission design considerations and hydraulic design; water transmission by pumping; types of distribution systems; design considerations and distribution system design; pipe materials for transmission and distribution; leak detection and control; software packages for design and simulation.

Back to Top

HWR 4641: Water Resources Management

Thematic issues in the sustainability of water resources development, including social issues, institutional issues, planning and coordination issues, environmental issues, technical issues, financial issues and private sector participation; water as an economic good and the conditions and challenges in managing the resource; market conditions and failures, and public policy in resource management; competing uses of water, demand-supply management, and conjunctive use schemes; traditional institutional approach of fragmented management; principles of integrated water resources management as a comprehensive approach to resource management; key elements of integrated management emphasizing inter-generational and intra-generational equity; privatization and user participation in resource management; case studies, especially from the southern Africa region.

Back to Top

HWR 4642: Applied Meteorology

Principles of radar operation and radar remote sensing techniques; types of radar and their applications in meteorology; use of atmospheric data and cloud imagery from satellites for understanding the atmosphere and for weather forecasting.

Back to Top

HWR 4643: Water Treatment Processes

Water storage and off take structures; water aeration, chemical precipitation and ion exchange; storage, preparation and dosing of reagents; rapid and slow mixing; coagulation and flocculation; sedimentation; rapid and slow sand filtration; disinfection; removal of dissolved organic and inorganic solids through ion exchange, membrane technologies, adsorption and chemical oxidation; water stabilization; treatment, disposal and reuse of backwash water and sludge; operation and management of water treatment plants; community-level water purification on a domestic scale.

Back to Top

HWR 4990: Research Techniques and Project

The value and forms of research; ethics in research; problem identification and conceptualization; research and project design; definition of objectives and methodology; hydrologic, hydrogeologic and meteorologic field surveys and data collection; social information gathering and community interfacing; laboratory methods for research; quantitative and qualitative analysis of water resource and related data; cost-effective analysis and evaluation; proposal documentation for, and reporting on, research and project activities; supervised project and preparation and submission of mini-dissertation

Back to Top

Modules and their contents for MESHWR and PhD (HWR):
Research and Thesis

The Department offers both masters and PhD degrees by research and thesis only in the areas of surface water hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology (including climate change), water resources management and supply, jointly supervised with our collaborative partners in CSIR, DWAF, other related Departments in this University and other academic institutions.

Back to Top

Mr. John Ongony Odiyo (Head of Department)
BSc (Agric. Eng. Hons.); MSc (Wat. Res. Engin.)

Brief Historical Background

Between 1990 and 1997: Served in various capacities in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Egerton University in Kenya, rising through the ranks from teaching Assistant, Assistant Lecturer to Lecturer. Between 1997 and 2002: Worked as undergraduate tutor in Engineering Hydraulics in the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of the Witwatersrand . In the same period, was involved in stream flow monitoring study in Nysvley floodplain in Limpopo Province of South Africa.

From 2002 to date (2005): Has been working as a senior lecturer and head of the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Venda.

In 2005 he will be doing PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand , specializing in the area of River Hydraulics. Teaching and research expertise integrate the following areas of applied water sciences: Groundwater hydrology, open channels hydraulics, fluid dynamics, surface water hydrology, applied meteorology, wastewater management and water quality management.

Research and Publications

  • J.O. Odiyo , H.M. Bapela, R. Mugwedi and L. Chimuka (2005). Trace metals contamination of soils, vegetation and water in Thohoyandou , South Africa . Submitted for publication to Water SA.
  • Odiyo J.O . and Ramusiya F. (2005). Groundwater storage and yield potentials in fractured aquifers in the Thabina Valley , Tzaneen. Presented in Biennial Ground Water Conference held on 7-9 March, 2005 at CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria , South Africa .
  • Ochieng, J.O. Odiyo and M. Mutsago (2003). Biological treatment of mixed industrial wastewaters in a fluidized bed reactor. Journal of Harzadous materials B96, 79-90.
  • J.O. Odiyo and C.S. James (2002). Modelling sediment dynamics for physical habitat management in bedrock-controlled rivers. Environmental Flows and Ecohydraulics 4 Conference, March 2002, Cape Town , paper in preparation for publication.
  • J.O. Odiyo and P.H. Omara-Ojungu (2002). Strategies for effective communication of environmental science to rural communities, Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference, Dec 2002, paper in preparation for publication.
  • J.O. Odiyo and C.S. James (1999). Modelling process driven sediment storage response in typical pool-rapid channel types. In: Extended Abstracts in Hydrological and Geochemical processes in Large Scale River Basins, (ed.), HiBAm, Manaus , Brazil .
  • C.P.K. Basalirwa, J.O. Odiyo , R.J. Mngodo and E.J. Mpeta (1999). The climatological regions of Tanzania based on the rainfall characteristics. International Journal of Climatology 19, 69-80.
  • J.O. Odiyo (1994) Application of Principal Component Analysis (PCA) in delineation of Tanzania into homogeneous rainfall regions (MSc dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, 1994).
  • J.O. Odiyo (1990) Planning and design of a reservoir across Njoro River to supply water to Egerton University community (BSc dissertation, 1990).
  • J.O. Odiyo (2005*) Sediment routing in bedrock-controlled channels (PhD thesis-to be submitted in May, 2005)

Masters and Honours Projects Supervised

  • Bapela, H.M. (2004) Analysis of trace metals in soils and plants along roadsides in Thohoyandou town, Limpopo Province , South Africa , MSc.
  • Maluleke, D. (2003). Flood risk on human settlement and economic activities along Luvuvhu River Basin , (Honours).
  • Mamali, M.A. (2003). The impact of agrochemicals on water quality of the Mutshindudi River , (Honours)
  • Mashau, M.S. (2003) (Honours). A case study of the Tshakuma regional water treatment scheme, (Honours).
  • Ramarumo, T.C. (2003). The assessment of flood impacts in Nzhelele River basin , (Honours)..
  • Miti, K. (2003). Evaluation of the predictive potentials of theoretical probability distributions on Luvuvhu River basin streamflow data, (Honours).
  • Matodzi V.G. (2004). Equitable allocation of water at Thohoyandou area under Thulamela municipality to high and low water demand areas, (Honours).
  • Ramusiya F. (2004). The use of different forms of Cooper-Jacob methods in determining the flow characteristics of aquifers in the Thabina Valley , Tzaneen area, Limpopo Province , (Honours)
  • Rasiuba T.C. (2004). Rainwater harvesting to augment rural water supply in Lwamondo area of Limpopo Province , (Honours).
  • Singo L.R (2005). Extreme rainfall events (droughts and floods) in Vhembe district of the Limpopo Province of South Africa over the 1960-2003 periods, (Honours).
  • Makungo R. (2005). Sustainability of groundwater supplies through accelerated recharge in Mukula and Tshaulu villages, Limpopo Province , (Honours).

On-going Masters and Honours Research Projects

  • Equitable or optimal allocation of groundwater amongst competing uses in Dendron-Bochum area of Limpopo Province .
  • Water Resources planning zones in the Limpopo Province of South Africa based on runoff characteristics
  • Trophic status of Vondo and Albasini water impoundments in the Limpopo Province
  • The sustainability of Thulamela and Makhado urban water supply systems and links to socio-economic developments
  • The impact of vegetation clearance on the hydrology of Luvuvhu river basin in Soutpansberg area, Limpopo Province
  • The impact of land use types on groundwater recharge response in Vhembe district
  • Hydrogeological characterization of Mphongolo and Shingwedzi River basins in Kruger National Park , South Africa (joint research with CSIR).

New Research

  • Strategic sustainable sewage management system(s) for peri-urban areas, to be funded by Water research Commission (WRC).

Currently working on a proposal on ‘rainwater harvesting for multiple uses in rural areas of Limpopo Province with inadequately developed water supply infrastructure.'

The following is a list of staff members in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources:

Designation Name Contact

Mr. JO Odiyo (HOD)

Tel: +27 15 962 8577

Jabulani R Gumbo (Senior Lecturer)
Pr Sci Nat., PhD

Tel: +27 15 962 8563