Maloti DrakensbergHP
Mondi Wetland HP slider1


Dr Mark Graham

Position:                                Director

Discipline:                             Aquatic Ecologist

Centre:                                   Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR)

School:                                   School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Campus:                                 Agriculture Campus




Dr Mark Graham is an aquatic ecologist with 30 plus years’ experience in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem functioning and management. Marks’ early career started at Umgeni Water, where he had extensive involvement in the management and development of an ISO 17025 quality accredited laboratory and the National River Health Programme – Quality Assurance programme. Mark then made a move to professional consulting in starting GroundTruth, Water, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Environmental Engineering. Over the years Mark has provided specialist input on numerous projects for national and international corporations and government departments, developing innovative solutions to a range of practical and applied environmental and water-related issues. Furthermore, Mark is actively involved in the leading of water resources research on numerous research projects for the Water Research Commission and the Department of Water and Sanitation, having co-developed numerous of the published assessment tools and EcoStatus models currently used in South Africa (e.g. SASS5, IHI, VEGRAI, MIRAI). He is a registered professional natural scientist (Pr Sci Nat), a Fellow of the Water Institute of SA (FWISA) and the regional SASS5 quality assurance auditor appointed by the Department of Water and Sanitation. Mark plays an active role in promoting and developing citizen science within the water sector of South Africa, with an aim to empowering and educating the public to collectively improve the state of our water resources.


2004 PhD (Botany, University of North West)

1991 MSc (Biological Sciences, University of Natal, Durban)

1987 BSc (Agriculture, University Natal, Pietermaritzburg) – majoring in Rangeland Ecology

Current Research Projects

  • Using environmental flows to inform integrated water resource management in a critically water scarce region. Mujib River, Jordon.
  • Aquatic macroinvertebrates of the Mujib catchment and Azraq Wetland Reserve in Jordan for use in biomonitoring
  • Determination of microplastics in sediment, water, and fish across the Orange-Senqu River basin.
  • Validation of the clarity tube as an effective citizen science tool for monitoring suspended solids in wastewater treatment works effluent and rivers.

Recently Completed Projects (2020-23)

  • Project Leader (2022) working with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) on the Socio-Economic Analysis of the Costs of inaction of plastic debris leakage into the uMngeni River catchment in KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • Project lead on a multinational Joint Basin Survey (JBS3) in 2021 commissioned by the Orange Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) to determine the aquatic ecosystem health of the Orange Senqu River system from its source to the sea including its path through member states within the basin (Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana).
  • Project Leader (2021) where GroundTruth’s role was to conduct a Vulnerability Assessment of eThekwini’s rivers in order to help inform the CBA for the Durban Business Case for Durban’s Transformative Riverine Management Programme.
  • Project Leader for the 2021 C40s Regulatory Framework and Toolkit for Transformative riverine management in an urban context.
  • Project lead on the Development Bank of South Africa funded eThekwini Palmiet River Rehabilitation Project, to Improve River Health through Community-based Partnerships. Current project.
  • Project leader and lead researcher and author on a 2018 Water Research Commission (WRC) project involving the development of innovative community-based water resource monitoring tools to mainstream citizen science and improve transboundary catchment management.

Hobbies and Interests

In his spare time Mark is a keen canoeist and regularly paddles the Dusi Canoe Marathon. He is continuing his 25 year (to date) rehabilitation and revegetation project of the headwaters of the Ferncliffe Forest and Townbush Stream, and likes nothing more than riding his unicycle in the forests and single tracks around the province!           

Five recent publications

  • Graham PM and Taylor J. Development of citizen science water resource monitoring tools and Communities of Practise for South Africa, Africa and the world (WRC Report TT 763/18) September 2018.
  • Graham PM, Dickens CWS, Taylor RJ. 2004. miniSASS — A novel technique for community participation in river health monitoring and management. African Journal of Aquatic Science 29 (1): 25–35.
  • Graham PM, Dickens CWS, Mbowa S. 1998. Modelling the water quality in impoundments within the Umgeni Water operational area and the consequences for potable water treatment costs. WRC Report No: 615/1/98.
  • Dickens C, Graham M, De Winnaar G, Hodgson K, Tiba F, Sekwele R, Sikhakhane S, De Moor F, Barber-James H, Van Niekerk. K. 2008. The impacts of high water flow releases from an impoundment on in-stream ecological processes. Pretoria: Water Research Commission.
  • Dickens CWS, Graham PM. 2002. The South African Scoring System (SASS) version 5 rapid bioassessment method for rivers. African Journal of Aquatic Science 27: 1-10.