Water Research Centre


The CSIR Water Research Centre contributes to the provision of reliable, efficient and functional water and wastewater service delivery, in the interest of economic development, through the development and refinement of smart water use and infrastructure technologies for the public and private sectors.

The centre addresses shortcomings in South Africa’s water planning and accountability; infrastructure operation and maintenance; water treatment technologies and critical domain skills. It also focuses on dwindling water resources, deteriorating water quality, emerging water pollutants and lack of access to alternative water resources.    


Strategic objectives

The CSIR invests in the development of technology/software/tools that will improve water resources resilience, thus ensuring availability of water of high quality against the backdrop of the impact of climate change and other stressors, such as trade-offs within the food-water-energy nexus.

The organisation helps improve water management systems through its contributions towards policy reviews and the development of tools and techniques that will reduce the cost of water delivery and promote equitable water use. The aim is to ensure improved water testing methods, purification, water and wastewater treatment, and access to alternative water resources.

The CSIR Water Research Centre also contributes towards scarce skills development (human capital development) in the water sector through bursary and internship programmes.

Researchers aim to develop fit-for-purpose technologies for the development and optimisation of smart and robust water use and wastewater infrastructure with concomitant improved operation and maintenance.



Smart water use: Provide knowledge, innovation, skills and services to improve water supply and demand management through effective water resources planning. This also includes improved assessment and testing of water resources, pathways and effluents, and the development of low-cost technology solutions to mitigate water quality challenges.

Smart water infrastructure: Develop comprehensive water infrastructure lifecycle solutions (design, operation and performance management) with a specific focus on raw water reticulation, potable water distribution network, wastewater distribution networks, and water and wastewater treatment plants.

Selected interventions and technologies

Potable water network management through smart systems 

Challenge: Dilapidated and poorly operated water supply infrastructure contributing to poor service and non-revenue water.

Solution: (Near) Real-time water distribution network data acquisition with automated analysis and response for enhanced operation and maintenance.

  • Smart pressure management system
  • Continuous leak detection
  • Show stresses on the network
  • Smart water metering
  • Overview of network performance
  • Smart water quality monitoring tools


Decentralised wastewater treatment systems to augment centralised wastewater treatment plants with circular economy benefit

Challenge: Water supply and sanitation backlogs, due to lack of sufficient infrastructure funding, among others.

Solution: Low energy demand and chemical-free water purification and supply, as well as wastewater treatment decentralised systems.

  • Low capital expenditure;
  • Low operating expenditure; and
  • Ease of deployment


Taking advantage of the fourth industrial revolution for development of advanced technologies for water resources management for different users

Challenge: Lack of innovative and effective water data collection, storage and use.

Solution: A National Centralised Water Data Repository that would be easy to access, generate and extract valuable information from in support of water security, economic growth; and

Refine existing tools and develop new tailor-made tools and software to support decision making in water management and planning.

Dr Rembu Magoba