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Object-orientation and integration for modelling water resource systems using the ACRU model.

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Water is a limiting resource in South Africa, with demand in many catchments exceeding supply, necessitating transfers of water between catchments. This situation requires detailed and integrated management of the country’s water resources, considering environmental, social and economic aspects as outlined in the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998). Integrated water resources management (IWRM) will require better data and information through monitoring and integrated water resources modelling. The ACRU hydrological model is an important repository of South African water research and knowledge. In recent years there have been technological advances in computer programming techniques and model integration. The thesis for this study was that the valuable knowledge already existing in the ACRU model could be leveraged to provide a better hydrological model to support IWRM in South Africa by: (i) restructuring the model using object-oriented design and programming techniques, and (ii) implementing a model interface standard. Object-oriented restructuring of the ACRU model resulted in a more flexible model enabling better representation of complex water resource systems. The restructuring also resulted in a more extensible model to facilitate the inclusion of new modules and improved data handling. A new model input structure was developed using Extensible Markup Language (XML) to complement the object-oriented structure of the ACRU model. It was recognised that different models have different purposes and strengths. The OpenMI 2.0 model interface standard was implemented for ACRU, enabling ntegration with other OpenMI 2.0 compliant specialised models representing different domains to provide a more holistic IWRM view of water resource systems. Model integration using OpenMI was demonstrated by linking ACRU to the eWater Source river network model. A case study in the upper uMngeni Catchment in South Africa demonstrated: (i) the benefits of the object-oriented design of the restructured ACRU model, in the context of using ACRU to create modelled catchment-scale water resource accounts, and (ii) the integration of ACRU with another model using OpenMI. The case study also demonstrated that despite the improvements to the ACRU model, the simulations are only as good as the model input data.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.