Look to groundwater, experts say

SHARE   |   Monday, 28 September 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang

The President of Groundwater Association of Botswana (GAB) Marumo Morule has hit hard at groundwater professionals for withholding important knowledge that could have helped alleviate water shortages in the country. Morule said the professionals have the knowledge but they choose not to put it into use to help ease water problems in the country.  


Morule said this at the Groundwater Management Seminar organised by A.S.A Enterprises (Pty) Ltd in association with Roscoe Moss Company on Wednesday. He called on the professionals to come on board and join hands with government to address this problem. The seminar was held to help equip local professionals with skills on how to effectively handle groundwater resources for efficiency in water production. Roscoe Moss Company Vice President Timothy Lynch said all what people seem to care about is surface water and overlook groundwater. Lynch pointed out that groundwater is equally important as surface water.


He encouraged Batswana and government to invest in groundwater to complement surface water. According to him this will be an easy task as the country has very skilful consultants to do the job. “Botswana has very good consultants and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this talent,” said Lynch. 
Drilling and constructing a borehole is normally seen as an expensive exercise and some end up using cheaper materials they could find. However, Lynch is of the feeling that using cheaper material is always more expensive in the long run. He advised people to go for quality materials as they are cheaper to maintain. “Quality boreholes are expensive but less quality ones are even more expensive and costly as they require frequent maintenance,” he explained.
What Lynch said correlates well with what is happening with the North-South Carrier. It has been revealed by the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) Kitso Mokaila that low quality pipes have been used hence the frequent breakdown leakages experienced in the pipeline. According to Mokaila Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) was used for the north-south carrier instead of steel. This now has led to the need for frequent maintenance of the pipelines costing more money than if steel was used as it is durable.       
Lynch said there is a need for good management of groundwater resources as it can help improve water supply. Botswana is currently faced with a challenge of water shortages and Lynch believes if well designed, constructed and maintained the boreholes in the country can help ease the situation.

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Morule concurred with Lynch but said this can be possible only in some areas while some like Gaborone do not have sufficient groundwater. He gave an example with the Masama well fields saying the place has more water that can be used for some time. The Masama well fields currently supply additional water  to the Great Gaborone area. For continued and effective production of water by the wells experts say they need rehabilitation. According to a geohydrologist from the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) Ben Morake well rehabilitation has proved useful in the past. Morake said between 2006 and 2008 MEWR in partnership with Roscoe Moss Company and the United States Trade and Development Agency carried out an exercise to rehabilitate wells around the country and it was a success.


According to Morake the aims of the project were to improve available water supply, reduce production costs of boreholes as well as train DWA personnel. He explained that rehabilitation proved an increase in capacity be the wells. “In Palla Road five boreholes were rehabilitated and achieve an increase in production capacity from 4 to 16%,” said Morake.

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Statistics shows that DWA has an estimated 600 wells with annual failures at 60 wells. Morake said for these wells to continue producing water they need rehabilitation to prolong their lifespan. Lynch had earlier also talked about artificial recharge of groundwater which could be another method used to keep water production going. This is where water is injected back into the underground for future use as portable water. However, Morule feels this method would need too much investigation before it could be used in Botswana.  “He said first it should be identified where that recharging water would come from since there is little water. The other thing is the issue of pollution which is very a very serious one,” he said. He nonetheless did not dismiss it altogether.   


This however could be Botswana’s future resort as Mokaila had hinted that Botswana is currently looking at a possibility of using underground water storage to save water for future. Botswana is said to be rich in saline water and officials are looking at treating this water and pumping it back into underground water storages. This is a technique is highly used in Israel. Israeli experts are expected in Botswana in the near future for explorations to determine if the same could be used in the country.  



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