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An appraisal of diverse factors influencing long-term success of groundwater schemes for domestic water supplies, focusing on priority areas in South Africa
Expanded Title:Groundwater is important today in many sectors, ranging from agriculture to domestic water supplies. It will make proportionately greater contributions to South Africa’s water supplies in future as surface water reaches the limits of its availability. Considering its potential, groundwater in South Africa is underutilised and often neglected – it offers a substantial source of unallocated water in the country today, albeit one that is distributed over a large area. Groundwater is a “proximal resource” - although yields from individual boreholes in South Africa are often modest, groundwater is distributed much more evenly across the country compared with surface water, making it often suitable for small-scale water supplies in rural areas and for smaller municipalities. The total volume of available, renewable groundwater in South Africa is estimated to be about 7 500 million cubic metres per year, even in a dry year, and we currently use less than half of this. In contrast, the assured yield of our surface water resources is about 12 000 million cubic metres per year – but most of this is already allocated. As South Africans we often underestimate groundwater – in fact, about two-thirds of South Africans rely on groundwater for their domestic needs. The big metros of Tshwane and Johannesburg use groundwater for part of their water requirements and the city of Mahikeng is 100% reliant on groundwater, sourced from dolomite aquifers to the east. Other cities such as Port Elizabeth and Cape Town are currently investigating the potential of groundwater. Atlantis, Beaufort West, De Aar, Jamestown, Victoria West and several other towns rely mainly on groundwater. Although most large-volume water users now rely on surface water, the majority of small water supplies, which are critical to livelihoods, health and dignity, depend on groundwater. Groundwater’s huge potential in South Africa, particularly for poor and rural communities, is still being unlocked. The resource also has important functions in improving food security, maintaining ecosystems, and insuring us against drought and climate change. Improved scientific understanding and management is necessary to further unlock groundwater’s benefits. This study has examined the reliability or sustainability of groundwater-based domestic water supplies, and concluded that the issue of Operation and Maintenance (O&M) is the single biggest factor in ensuring long-term success. Normally the responsibility of the municipal Water Services Provider, or its appointed Professional Services Provider, O&M is often underfunded or overlooked altogether. Better O&M not only ensures much higher levels of reliability and continuity of water supply, it has been proven to actually save money in the long-term.
Date Published:01/09/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Water Resource Management/IWRM - Water Governance, Drinking water - Water supply
Document Keywords:Ground Water
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:2158/1/14
ISBN No:97-8-14312-0584-4
Authors:Cobbing J; Eales K; Gibson J; Lenkoe K; Rossouw T
Project No:K5/2158
Document Size:9 307 KB
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