The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Ms Lindiwe Sisulu has recently made calls to the public to use water cautiously, especially during this difficult time of drought experienced in various parts of the country.
The same appeal also goes to the use of groundwater, as it is also as important as surface water.
South Africa is already suffering from the effects of drought due to climate change which has brought about inclement weather, resulting in hot and dry weather conditions, rainfall that has become less frequent and less predictable, and thus surface water sources have already been stretched.
Groundwater is another form of resource that can be used for both domestic and agricultural purposes.
” Just like the rivers, this form of resource is also replenished by rainfall and therefore it is important to utilize groundwater efficiently. Groundwater is usually ideal for rural water supply purposes because it is usually found close to where it is needed,” said the DWS.
It is also beneficial because it is resistant to the effects of drought due to large amounts. It is usually safe to drink groundwater without treatment, unlike of water that are stored underground, leading to rates of evaporation that are low surface water.
“This is because harmful bacteria and viruses usually cannot survive for long underground. However, it is normal for chlorination to be carried out as a precaution for most public groundwater supplies.”
Groundwater contributes hugely to agriculture, industry and town water supplies. It is already an effective way of water supply to several towns in the Western Cape, such as Atlantis, Prince Albert, De Aar, Beaufort West, and Vryburg in the North West.
In as much as groundwater supplies are sustainable and reliable, it is important that communities apply restraint when using the resource, not to over-abstract, as this can lead to unforeseen consequences like sinkholes.
Groundwater is used primarily for agricultural purposes.