New archive for historical water records launched

The Water Research Commission (WRC), together with North West University’s (NWU’s) Vaal Campus, are in the process of establishing the South African Water History Archival Repository (SAWHAR).

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This facility will store as much historical data as can be found relating to SA’s water records, and this information will be accessible to water sector managers, engineers, scientists, researchers and administrators. “Creating a water research repository involves identifying all of the entities that have collections of documentation which should be incorporated into these archives,” according to a WRC statement.

“The Department of Water Affairs, for example, will benefit from this project since it has a lot of historical records stored as hard copies, dating back from the early 1920s up to 2005.” The WRC added that the information stored in the SAWHAR would also allow for the sharing of archival expertise among NWU, the University of SA, and the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) consortium based at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Professor Thanyani Mariba, Campus Rector of the School of Basic Sciences at NWU, said that the SAWHAR project would allow stakeholders to also share in, and celebrate, legendary water-related projects in SA such as the Tugela Transfer Scheme, the Gariep Dam’s construction, and the irrigation works developed throughout SA in the 20th century.

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“Like the Mandela Portal, the establishment of a water archive will require observations and interactions with similar ventures around the globe, to ensure that the project is well-planned, co-ordinated and maintained,” the WRC said. “Involvement and assistance from InterPARES may provide such a platform, to ensure that the process is sustainable and remains relevant, not only from a heritage aspect but also as information for further planning, development and responsible utilisation of water resources.”

Should Farmer’s Weekly readers have information that they feel belongs in the SAWHAR, please contact Dr Inga Jacobs of the WRC at 012 330 9014 or [email protected]