ISSN 0378-4738 printed version
ISSN 1816-7950 online version



Scope and policy

This journal publishes refereed, original work in all branches of water science, technology, engineering and policy. This includes water resource development; the hydrological cycle; surface hydrology; geohydrology and hydrometeorology; limnology; salinisation; treatment and management of municipal and industrial water and wastewater; treatment and disposal of sewage sludge; environmental pollution control; water quality and treatment; aquaculture in terms of its impact on the water resource; agricultural water; water policy; water economics; water as a social good; etc. Submissions of predominantly local interest outside of Southern Africa (defined for this purpose to include the countries of South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) will not be considered.

Contributions may take the form of a paper, a critical review, a short communication, a rapid communication, a technical note or comments on papers already published.

A paper is a comprehensive contribution to the subject, including introduction, experimental information and discussion of results (Technical accounts involving application of well-known techniques, and situation assessment/observation/sampling papers reporting results of work not carried out as a research activity, cannot be considered).
A review is an authoritative, critical account of recent and current research in a specific field to which the author has made notable contributions.
A short communication is a concise account of new and significant findings to inform readers of preliminary or limited research results.
A rapid communication is an original contribution which merits prompt publication to publicise the findings of very recent research with immediate significance.
A technical note describes an original process or technique without necessarily including extensive data, theory or critical evaluation. Comments on papers already published are sent to the authors of the paper for reply and both the comments and the authors' reply will be published in the upcoming issue of Water SA. Preference is given to concise contributions.

Peer review
Manuscripts will be submitted to and assessed by peer reviewers. A single–blind review system is used. The names of the authors are included in the manuscript sent for peer review but the names of the reviewers are not included on the review reports sent to authors. The evaluation of any manuscript is undertaken with the understanding that neither the substance of the article nor the figures or tables has been published or will be submitted for publication elsewhere during the period of review. Authors bear sole responsibility for the factual accuracy of their publications.

Publication frequency
The journal is published quarterly. However, the online version of the journal operates as a ‘rolling publication’ – articles will be published online as soon as they are accepted, and will appear in the next available print issue. The journal is published online at:

Open access
By submitting a manuscript to Water SA authors transfer copyright to the journal, for the full term thereof throughout the world, subject to acceptance of the manuscript for publication in Water SA. The publisher’s version (PDF) may be archived by the author post–publication in an online repository.


Form and preparation of manuscripts

  • Submitting a manuscript
  • Manuscripts, in English only, must be submitted in MS Word by e–mail to Please note that the mail server imposes an e–mail size limit of 6 MB.

    Each submission must be accompanied by a covering letter/e–mail, stating the name(s) and title(s) and contact details (e–mail) of each author, as well as the author to whom correspondence should be addressed and giving a brief description of the paper indicating the originality and significance/contribution of the work reported. The e–mail address used to submit the paper will be used for all correspondence with the authors about the paper’s progress.

    In addition, the covering letter must list the names, affiliations and contact details (e–mail) of at least four reviewers who are qualified to review the manuscript. Suggested reviewers should not have contributed to the manuscript or the research reported therein, and should not currently have a close association with any of the authors. The Editor is under no obligation to approach the suggested individuals to act as reviewers, and other reviewers may still be used.

    The submission of a paper will be taken to indicate that it has not been, and will not be, submitted for publication elsewhere during the period of review, and that all of the authors have agreed to the submission.

  • Script requirements
  • Manuscript structure
    The title should be concise and followed by authors’ names, affiliations (at the time the research was conducted), and complete addresses. A paper may be organised under main headings such as Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion (or Results and Discussion), Conclusions, Acknowledgements and References. Sections and paragraphs should not be numbered.

    Corresponding author
    The author to whom all correspondence after publication should be addressed should be indicated, and their telephone number and e–mail address given in a footnote on the title page. If the corresponding author’s current affiliation or postal address differs from that at the time the research was conducted the current details should be given here.

    The paper must include an abstract of no more than 300 words, and keywords. The abstract should give brief, factual information about the objectives, methods, results and conclusions of the work. References should not be cited in the abstract.

    Length restriction
    The following restrictions apply for the total word count of submitted manuscripts (including the title, authors, affiliations, tables, and references):

    – Paper; rapid communication: 8 000 words
    – Review: 10 000 words (recommended)
    – Short communication; technical note: 4 000 words

    Proficiency in English
    Authors who are unsure of correct English usage should consult a language editor or someone known to be proficient in scientific English for proofreading or editing assistance before submitting their manuscript for review.
    Manuscripts in which the language use makes the content difficult to follow or which will require extensive language editing may be rejected on this basis.

  • Formatting requirements
  • Water SA uses UK English and at the point of submission the choice of font, font size, and line spacing is at the authors’ discretion.

    The International System of Units (SI) applies. Technical and familiar abbreviations may be used, but must be defined if any doubt exists. A space should be used between the last digit and the unit of measure, except for % and ° (e.g., 10% and 5°C, but 13 MW). Water SA uses the symbol 'l' for litres.

    Variables and equations
    All variables should appear in italics. Variables which can be created in MS Word should be inserted in the text in this format, and not using equation–building software. All equations should be numbered sequentially in Arabic numerals.

    Tables should be inserted in the text (as MS Word tables, not image files) in their appropriate positions and numbered sequentially in Arabic numerals (Table 1). A short but adequate descriptive caption for each table must be provided.

    Figures should be inserted in the text, except in cases where this would substantially increase the size of the MS Word file (limit of 6 MB). Figures will be published in colour in the online version and in grey–scale in the print version.

    Authors are responsible for the accuracy of references. References should be cited in the text as follows: Smith (1982) or (Smith, 1982). Where more than two authors are involved, the first author’s name followed by 'et al.' (not italicised) should be used. Footnotes are not allowed, except for tables. All references should be listed alphabetically in the 'References' section at the end of the manuscript. The names of the first 10 authors should be listed in full, followed by 'and co–authors' in the case of references with more than 10 authors. Titles of journals of periodicals are abbreviated according to
    Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (Cassi). Templates for the required format of references are available for RefWorks and EndNote. Two examples of the presentation of references are as follows:

    Journal article:
    GRABOW WOK, COUBROUGH P, NUPEN EM and BATEMAN BW (1984) Evaluations of coliphages as indicators of the virological quality of sewage-polluted water. Water SA 10 (1) 7-14.

    WETZEL RG (1975) Limnology. WB Saunders Company, Philadelphia. 324 pp.

    Chapter in a book:
    SHIKLOMANOV I (1993) World fresh water resources. In: Gleick PH (ed.) Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World's Fresh Water Resources. Oxford University Press, New York.

    SMITH B (2000) Low–flow hydraulics used to assess environmental flows for rivers. PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand.

    Conference proceedings:
    FORESTI E (2001) Anaerobic treatment of domestic sewage: established technologies and perspectives. In: Proceedings of the 9th World Congress on Anaerobic Digestion – Anaerobic Conversion for Sustainability, 2–6 September 2001, Antwerp.

    Internet sources:
    Internet references should be cited as normal and referenced in full in the ‘References’ section, giving the title of the page, the URL and the date accessed. For example: Water Research Commission (2012) WRC Knowledge Review 2011/12. URL: http://wrcwww/Knowledge%20Hub%20Documents/Knowledge%20Reviews/WRC%20Knowledge%20Review%202011-12.pdf (Accessed 21 December 2012).

    Personal communications:
    Personal communications should be cited as normal and referenced in full in the ‘References’ section, giving the date of the communication and the full name, affiliation and postal address of the person communicated with. ROBERTS J (2010). Personal communication, 17 January 2010. Dr John Roberts, Department of Water, Central Province, South Africa, 9817.

  • Revised manuscripts
  • If revision has been recommended after review, the revised manuscript should be submitted for consideration within 12 months of receipt of the review recommendations, failing which the manuscript will be considered to have been withdrawn. Submission of revised manuscripts must be accompanied by a detailed document outlining the authors’ response to each of the reviewers’ comments and the corresponding changes that have been made to the text. Figures should be inserted in the text in the appropriate position, and, where applicable, should also be submitted as separate files in their original format (e.g. Excel, TIFF, JPEG). Scanned figures of low resolution (less than 300 dpi) are not acceptable.

    Approval of proofs prior to publication
    The submitting author will be e–mailed the PDF copy of the laid–out article for proofreading prior to online publication. Corrections should be restricted to typesetting errors. If the author has not requested any corrections within 14 days of receipt of the proof then the journal may proceed with publication.

    Submission checklist

    ☑ This is the authors’ own, original work and has not been, nor will be, submitted for publication elsewhere during the period of review.

    ☑ All authors have agreed to the submission and their e–mail addresses are provided in the letter of submission.

    ☑ The total length of the manuscript does not exceed 8 000 words in the case of a research paper or rapid communication, or 4 000 words in the case of a short communication or technical note.

    ☑ Four reviewers have been recommended and their contact details (e–mail) provided.


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