GW Awareness: Western Cape

The groundwater section (Geohydrology) of the Department Water Affairs: Western Cape Region held a Groundwater Awareness and Education drive in the Sandveld region on the west coast of South Africa on 6th and 7th March 2013. This event was in support of the Departmental Water Month held annually during March.

This year’s Groundwater Awareness and Education drive focussed on schools within the boundaries of the Northern Sandveld Water User Association. The region is totally dependent on groundwater for municipal supply, basic human needs and irrigation of mainly potato crops.

The event started with a groundwater focused exhibition at the Graafwater High school (combined high and primary school) on the 6th of March 2013. During this event learners from grade R to grade 12 moved per class through the exhibition where they were exposed to the different groundwater fields the Groundwater section is normally involved in.

The exhibition followed the following program:

  • Explanation of the hydrologic cycle and set of three Departmental groundwater posters depicting how groundwater occurs, and illustrating various threats to the resource (e.g. pollution).
  • Explanation of a practical working groundwater model with emphasis on the typical local groundwater aquifers showing the effects of abstraction on groundwater levels.
  • Exhibit of variety of groundwater monitoring equipment, including different data loggers and a rainfall collector.
  • Explanation of use of the equipment and the importance of monitoring.
  • Data capturing and GIS. Explanation of the capturing and reporting on collected data and the information products derived there from.
  • Animated video explaining groundwater to learners from grade R to grade 6.
  • Introduction and first chapter of the WRC video, “Water from Stone” - What is groundwater? Grade 7 to Grade 12 participated in this session. Two WRC dvd sets were handed to the school.

On the 7th of March five rural primary schools, Maasrust Primary, Kromland Primary, Langvlei Primary, Sandberg Primary and Leipoldtville Primary, were visited. Here the learners were educated on the hydrological cycle, water saving tips and basic groundwater occurrence and monitoring. Where possible a practical demonstration of groundwater monitoring was performed at the school’s supply borehole showing the learners how a water level and water quality is measured with the relevant instrumentation. WRC dvd sets were also handed to the schools.

In the end approximately 500 learners at Graafwater High school and 270 learners at the five rural farm schools were reached. (see the GALLERY for all pictures)

The education and awareness drive was met with much excitement and enthusiasm by the school children. Now that they are more aware of the resource it is trusted that they will spread their new insights into the community. Who knows- we may even have some of them starting a career with the groundwater section soon.

Article by Mr Brian Dyason. Edits by Mr Mike Smart.
All photos in the GALLERY courtesy of Brian Dyason, Jana Brits en Duncan Peters.