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Weather patterns all over the world are changing, and droughts and floods are becoming more commonplace everywhere. South Africa is also experiencing extreme weather changes, and has recently suffered one of the worst droughts in history, severely affecting provinces such as the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Karoo. A drought situation has far-reaching effects across all sectors of the economy, affecting both people and livestock equally. Whilst many of us have resorted to catching whatever rainwater we can in JoJo tanks, drought situations make this option unworkable at times. If we cannot get water from the skies, our other option is to look for it underground. This is where we need the skills of a pump and borehole specialist.
The government’s National Water Resource Strategy 2 identifies groundwater as “… a large, unused resource that plays a key role in achieving South Africa’s growth, development and socio-economic priorities.” Groundwater gets into the ground mostly through rain or melted snow seeping into the soil, a process called infiltration. Once in the ground, water continues a downward travel into underground phreatic layers or aquifiers. An aquifer is defined as a body of rock such as sand, gravel, sandstone or other permeable rock which is completely saturated in and surrounded by water, and can both store and transmit water. Water from aquifers can be pumped out from man-made wells or boreholes or it can flow out naturally in springs. There are, however, a number of factors threatening our groundwater, including urban development, deteriorating standards in wastewater treatment, and pollution from acid mine drainage and agro-chemicals.
Back in 2013, in an article published in the Farmer’s Weekly magazine, the Department of Water Affairs estimated that South Africa had roughly the same amount of groundwater as surface water, equating to roughly 7 500 million cubic meters annually. At that time, groundwater constituted between 12.5% and 20% of the country’s total water use, yet only 40% of total available groundwater was being harvested. It was estimated that the demand for water would increase by approximately 1,2% annually, and with the recent droughts, there has been enormous additional strain placed on surface water resources and reserves. Developing or maintaining these resources has become more even more costly and challenging. Careful planning is required in the implementation of groundwater schemes and sustainable management of groundwater resources - in other words, the balancing act of selling groundwater and preventing over-abstraction. South Africa is, however, despite the increasing demands on water availability, continuing in the ongoing building of both residential and commercial properties, which is putting additional strain on our water resources.
It was estimated in 2013 that approximately 45% of municipalities were unable to provide adequate water supplies for both domestic and waste needs. Present figures are unknown.
Private individuals, farmers and those in the agricultural and industrial sectors have the option to supplement their water supplies by sinking either boreholes or wells. Municipalities, real estate developers and recreational/sports clubs are also taking advantage of this resource to increase their available water supplies. A pump and borehole specialist is skilled in siting, drilling and installing boreholes to draw the most volume without drilling deeper than necessary. With water being a valuable but dwindling resource, it makes sense to try and operate off the municipal water grid as far as possible, giving you peace of mind whilst easing the pressure on these existing resources. Pump and borehole specialists are able to both provide and maintain borehole pumps as required. Borehole drilling is a relatively quick process, taking between one and two days, depending on the geology and depth required, and a well-sited borehole should provide clean, usable water for many years. Borehole depths are variable from about 50 – 150 metres, depending on the geological substrate, with an average depth of between 60 – 80 metres, and can yield up to 40 litres of water an hour. Once the borehole is drilled and water is struck, a steel or PVC casing liner is placed in the shaft to reinforce it and to preserve the cleanliness of the water. Pump rate is then determined through an aquifer test, and a suitable size pump is installed according to the flow rate and depth of the hole “the head”. Since many boreholes are situated in the middle of lawns, a camouflage covering is often placed over it, sitting flush with the level of the grass.
Pump and borehole specialists, whilst being extremely skilled and knowledgeable in their field, are not generally found through casual enquiries. You will have to actively search for them, and the internet is a great resource in this regard. Using search sites will speed up your efforts and Uptasker, in particular, will provide much needed assistance in finding the right specialist for your needs. Uptasker lists in geographical areas, making it easier to find a specialist close to you, as well as providing links to listed websites, online ratings and customer reviews. Supplier performance is easily assessed by reading their customer reviews to gauge service, quality and professionalism levels. You can also find these specialists through adverts in farming, house and home and industrial magazines, the Yellow Pages (both physical and online) and newspapers.
South Africa is known to be a semi-arid to arid country which is particularly characterised by a highly variable climate with constrained water resources as a result of weather extremes driven by climate change. Since water is essential in all areas of our lives, it makes sense to protect our access to this valuable resource by any means possible, whilst not depleting our national supplies. From an economic point of view, it also makes sense to remove ourselves as much as possible from the national water grid, whilst also being assured of the quality of water which we are using for human consumption. For more tips, see our pump and borehole specialist articles.
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