The dangers of overextraction of groundwater in South Africa were highlighted at the SMEnviro Groundwater Hydrology seminar, at the University of Pretoria, last month.
In-Situ chief consultant and cofounder Dr Ted Way explained the maximum quantity of groundwater that could be extracted in South Africa was about six-million cubic metres a year.
“Some groundwater resources take a long time to replenish. If too much is taken too fast, it may become depleted,” he said.
Groundwater in South Africa contributes about 13% of total water supply. Owing to the lack of perennial streams in the semi- desert parts, two-thirds of South Africa’s surface area is largely dependent on this form of water.
“We must know the groundwater hydrology parameters in order to solve water problems,” he stated.
Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said South Africa could face a water shortage within a decade and that the department’s hopes were on various initiatives, of which groundwater development was one.
Groundwater is usually cheap to develop because of its good quality and widespread occurrence. Being stored underground, where evaporation is minimised, also makes it more reliable than surface water during a drought.
SMEnviro supplies environmental monitoring instrumentation, systems and electrical equipment and also distributes instrumentation and automatic sampling equipment.