In attempt to help the drought stricken town of Makhanda in the Eastern Cape, relief organisation the Gift of the Givers has struck pure drinking water while drilling an exploratory borehole.

Dr Gideon Groenewald, Gift of the Givers hydrologist, geologist and palaeontologist led the expedition which proved successful on the first attempt with the team finding pure drinking water at 145 metres producing at least 20 000 litres per day.

The organisation says the plan is to drill at as many sites as possible to provide a sustainable alternative to bottled water.

The Gift of the Givers teams entered Makhanda on earlier this month and has been delivering hundreds of thousands of litres of bottled water to areas all over the city including Riebeeck East and Alicedale.

“This is only a temporary emergency solution; decisive intervention is to find quality ground water in the absence of rain,” the organisation says.

Interventions at Rhodes

The organisation is focusing much of its efforts on Rhodes University in an effort to protect the economy of the town.

“The life blood of the economy is Rhodes University. If that shuts down the city shuts down. An urgent meeting was held with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, and his Infrastructure specialist, Iain L’Ange, and drilling started on 21 February with the aquifer yielding 300 000 litres per day,” the organisation notes.

Gift of the Givers says a second borehole is planned and that these two will be pumped into 250 000 litre reservoir.  From there it will flow into the existing water reticulation system within the university’s 430 buildings through gravity.

“Surplus water will be stored in JoJo tanks at the periphery of the university freely available to all citizens in keeping with Dr Mabizela’s sentiment that the people of Makhanda are the people of Rhodes University,” it adds.

A third borehole will be drilled in the university which will feed into the middle and lower reservoirs of the Waainek Water Works on the west side of town as there is only 1% water left in the feeder dam. “The water from the university will augment the water in the west.”

Other key points

The organisation also has serious interventions planned in the east side, drilling along the lie of the Johan Kleynhans Water Plant and pumping water directly into the reservoir to increase the volume available to the residents in that region.

“Hospitals including the Fort England Psychiatric Facility, schools and the densely populated informal settlements on the east side are all earmarked for similar interventions,” it adds.

“Time is against us. Two dams have only 20 days of water left. Depending on funding availability Gift of the Givers will bring in more drilling machines in the race to secure water availability for a population water stressed from November last year. It’s time to pray earnestly for beneficial rain,” it concludes.

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