Environmental water temperature guidelines

Bridging the gap between research and implementation

This project aimed to bridge the gap between science/research and management/implementation, by taking the body of research on water temperature and packaging it in ways that best serves the end-users.

The project has developed several new resources (a table of key thermal impacts and their prevalence in South African rivers; a table of the biological effects of changes in water temperature on river organisms); maps (a spatial framework within which air-water temperature models are applied and reference thermographs are generated; a national map of system resilience; and a national map of air temperature – water temperature model accuracy); databases (a database of variables likely to indicate system resilience and model accuracy); innovative tools (for generating thermal metrics and thermographs; and for generating a Thermal Sensitivity Index and identifying thermally sensitive taxa), protocols (a protocol for collecting water temperature data; and a protocol for establishing environmental water temperature guidelines and setting water temperature targets for perennial rivers in South Africa) and processes (a screening process to assess thermal risk; and an evaluation process to assess thermal change based on deviation from reference or expected thermal conditions).

Volume 1 provides the technical background to the project, including an overview of water temperature, thermal impacts and the effect of thermal changes on river organisms. It outlines the engagement with water resource practitioners during the project, and provides a summary of the protocol for establishing environmental temperature guidelines for perennial rivers in South Africa, demonstrated with three case studies. It includes, as a resource, a list of publications related to this research. 

Volume 2 is the technical manual for setting water temperature targets for perennial rivers in South Africa. The manual serves as a road map for water resource practitioners needing to incorporate water temperature into Resource Directed Measures, including ecological Reserves and Resource Quality Objectives; and Source Directed Controls. It speaks directly to several tools, packaged into a toolbox, developed for establishing environmental water temperature guidelines.

The project was completed in 2019.




Project Leader
Helen Dallas