Dr Harrison Pienaar



Pienaar is responsible for managing water research and development at the CSIR. He obtained a PhD in hydrogeology from the University of the Western Cape. He has a keen interest in applied water research, with a particular focus on aspects relating to integrated water resource management. Pienaar has previously steered a number of key water initiatives and programmes such as Water for Growth and Development in South Africa, Water Resource Directed Measures, South African Water Sector Response to Climate Change, Systematic Conservation of South Africa’s Freshwater Biodiversity, and Sustainable use of South Africa’s Inland Waters.

About the talk

South Africa is a semi-arid country with a mean annual rainfall half of the world average at 490mm. To compound the scarcity, evaporation rates exceed rainfall in a large area of the country. Coupled with rising population and economic growth projections, by 2030, the country’s water demand will increase by 17% more water than currently is available. This will have a significant impact on the rate at which strategic sectors can grow and create the economic and social benefits expected. Except for mining and some major industrial users, most other industrial water supplies are provided by municipalities and their allocations are classified as urban uses. A key requirement for industrial user sectors is a sustained supply of good quality water.

The CSIR’s multidisciplinary nature perfectly positions the organisation to intervene in the area of water sustainability, where many of our competences can be applied in the areas of water infrastructure; water resource management; adaption to and mitigation of climate change, industrialisation and urbanisation; water and human health; mine, industrial and waste water treatment; and water quality monitoring. The organisation’s involvement in water sector activities and initiatives include research, development and innovation, implementation support, operational efficiency optimisation, network management and skills development support. Global trends in water innovation and technology can be categorised into three areas: Reduce, Remediate, and Reuse (3-Rs). In response to the 3-Rs of water, this presentation outlines several identified innovations by the CSIR in its science, engineering and technology portfolio to reduce raw water dependence and achieve discharge compliance, to treat wastewater (remediation), reuse water, and beneficiate nutrient recovery.