Given the units of fractured rocks and unconsolidated aquifer yielding large usable quantities of water and protracted storage capacity than surface reservoirs, water deficits may be met by mightily investing in constructing of boreholes.
This was disclosed by underground water stakeholders at the recent Underground Water Seminar earmarked to draw attention to alternative and sustainable ways that will develop Botswana‘s ground water resources. The event, themed on “Building a sustainable ground water management system for Botswana” marked efforts in support of the government to augment water shortfalls.
Botswana’s water scarcity hastened frequent water rationing by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), fuelling drought sentiment, thanks a part to the prevailing, unreliable rainfall patterns.
Phera Ramoeli, Senior Program Officer- Water Division of the Directorate of Infrastructure and Service at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed that Botswana’s plight largely hinges on its geographical placement. SADC, a 15 member states body aims to ensure maximum benefit for all, through sharing the region’s water resources. Ground water, an important and shared resource between SADC member states “accounts for 70% as source water for people especially in rural areas” according to Ramoeli.
However, Marumo Morule, President of the Ground Water Association of Botswana (GAB) says sustainable and conjunctive utilisation of surface and ground water requires careful planning and management of the resources, seeking alternative supply options at all times.
As a way of a conjunctive water supply scheme to augment demand in the greater Gaborone, the government recently coughed out P340 million to embark on the development of Masama Well project. The well-field, comprising of 32 boreholes (22 in Masama and 10 in Makhujwane) should supply water until 2025.
GAB, an association armed with, since 1989, a mandate to reverse the backlog of rural water supply around Botswana, has proposed technical knowledgeable consultation assistance that will provide a mechanism by which comprehensive and technical assessment should be approached.
Given the vast knowledge, Morule says untapped store of innovation and beneficial ideas related to underground water could be instantly availed. This, he says, will offset turnkey rural water development programs improving water efficiency. Although, he is sceptical that boreholes alone can meet deficiency to national grid satisfaction. “Boreholes cannot supply the whole of Gaborone,” he says, opining though that it will necessitate household activities.
Combined with surface water, it is believed by stakeholder that, ground water also helps to fill up the needs for government agencies to reliably supply water to growing populous.
But many rural water supply systems become overloaded and unable to meet demands, perceived as a result of borehole degradation. GAB incumbent President has suggested applied Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for water supply provisions to assist overburdened WUC.
However, he says, standards should be set to excite high quality products. A water rehabilitation project by Department of Water affairs between 2006 and 2008 bears testimony of efficiency reform that could be, only just driven by commitment. Of the 35 boreholes selected, overall specific capacity increased by 5% while efficiency improved 35%. A geologist at the department, Ben Morake, says they had uncovered low maintenance offered to boreholes.
To date, over 21 000 boreholes have been registered at Department of Water Affairs but fears are mounting that majority of them are offered sub-standard maintenance plans, scaling down life span and efficiency according to Tim Lynch, Vice president of the Roscoe Mosser Company (RMC). RMC has been a dedicated leader to the ground water industry since 1924. Underground resources, Lynch says, “should be viewed as capital investment rather than just holes”, given the design objectives.
He cites them being: maximum production, minimized pumping costs, built to outlast and mitigate risk of failure. Lynch opines that, Botswana’s abound capacitated consultancy firms including GAB, should embark on constructions and design by beginning with well written specifications and construction inspection. This will clamps down malfunctioning of boreholes, widely underpinned by poor drilling practices, wrong type of materials, improper selected gravel (depends on collection of representatives samples), lack of development and maintenance. Steel chemistry, he says, should meet water qualities to dissuade corrosion processes.
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