Chris, who emigrated from England to South Africa in 1954 as a three-year-old, graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1972.
His first job was with the SA Railways and Harbours where he worked for four years, attaining the position of District Engineer in Windhoek.
From the start of his career Chris has been motivated by the desire to use water for peace in southern Africa. This was the subject of his first paper published in 1973, and this vision has underpinned his working career. His water engineering career really started in 1977 when he joined Stewart Sviridov & Oliver where he became a partner and later director in the merged firm Stewart Scott.
Chris obtained his PhD in 1981 after developing a suite of hydro-salinity models, for the first time integrating water quality with water resource planning. These new techniques were first applied to the complex PWV-Vaal River system and proved to be a powerful planning tool that has since found wide application in solving practical engineering problems, both in the Vaal and other major river systems. A number of cost-effective water quality management options resulted, which are yielding very large economic benefits running to tens of billions of rands. He has participated in a number of studies carried out on behalf of the DWA and other clients, and has also led a number of Water Research Commission projects.
In 2000 he left Stewart Scott to establish Umfula Wempilo Consulting, which is where he is still working.
Chris is a SAICE Fellow, Senior Fellow of WISA, and has served on the committee of the SAICE Water Engineering Division since 1990, which he has chaired twice. He is a recipient of the SAICE 1997 Award for Meritorious Research, the 2009 SAICE President’s Award, and the 2011 SAICE Engineer of the Year Award. Since 2008 he has focused on addressing South Africa’s looming water crisis. He is the author of 43 technical papers published locally and overseas, and is the principal author of over 130 unpublished technical reports.
Chris is devoted to his wife Marina, their three daughters and a grandchild. He is actively involved in the Methodist Church, while other interests include amateur dramatics, debating, chess, badminton and reading.