Since democratisation of the country in 1994, groundwater’s role in South Africa has undergone a major change. Previously an undervalued resource is generally seen as private, groundwater has gained national recognition as a major life-giving source for domestic supplies, agriculture, and industry.By the Ground Water Division (GWD) of the Geological Society of South Africa Groundwater supports more than 50% of the towns and communities in the country and is the sole supplier to many mines, hundreds of towns and villages, and thousands of farms. The importance of groundwater can no longer be underestimated. It is a critical resource that can help address growing water demand due to a booming population, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and climate change. In 2016, the updated National Groundwater Strategy was developed, whereby the proper valuing of this previously neglected resource was highlighted. This was done to direct investment into its protection, conservation, and sustainable use. The Strategy, available on the Department of Water and Sanitations’ website, with its Implementation Guidelines, did not come at a better time, as there are serious warning signals that groundwater use is on an unsustainable path. Based on national monitoring networks, it is clear that not only our major aquifers, the Karst and coastal aquifers, but also our hard-rock aquifers, are under pressure in many locations.
This is due to a combination of over-abstraction causing declining water levels, and pollution causing poor water quality.Ground Water Division (GWD) Since 1979 GWD has taken up the banner as a neutral player, aiming to bring different stakeholders together to solve and prevent problems. One of its recent additions is the establishment of a database of professional (SACNASP registered) groundwater specialists that are active in the country and subscribe to a code of ethics. These specialists offer the knowledge and skills needed to manage groundwater sustainably and are rooted in a scientific approach. In addition, the published abstracts database that offers an overview of all scientific papers and posters presented at the last five Groundwater Conferences is a rich source citing research topics and work done across the country. Through its ongoing initiatives (conferences, seminars, courses, and outreach), the GWD strives to build awareness and create a platform to address all the issues around groundwater, its use, appreciation, and preservation. We invite you to Read more about us and Join the GWD on www.gwd.org.za