Groundwater Augmentation For Housing Estate Water Supply, Implementation And Legal Use

With increasing pressure on Cape Town’s potable water supply, the responsibility of diversifying supply for small, medium and large volume water users has fallen to the user to ensure sustainable use of potable water, and utilising all feasible non-potable sources where available.

With estate and sectional title living becoming more common in South Africa, it is possible to develop holistic groundwater development models and strategies for the implementation of mini wellfields within these, in general, more densified living areas. This is well aligned with the Water Conservation and Water Demand Management Strategy of the City of Cape Town, where conjunctive use of groundwater for non- potable uses such as irrigation is implemented, as well as aligning itself with the current water restrictions within the Cape Metropole.

Unlike standard residential neighbourhoods, estate development allows for the implementation of well- managed abstraction and monitoring of groundwater levels, as well as the possibility of shared groundwater usage in situations where legislation allows. The installation of fewer higher yielding boreholes (versus individual wellpoints on each residential section) to supply water to all communal areas and private gardens, allows for targeted data collection, interpretation and reporting.

Implementation of shared water use from a single water use licence (likely issued to the legal entity of the body corporate) within sectional title property has its own complications, where licensed water use would generally be restricted to communal areas.

The multi-phase assessment, implementation and licensing of groundwater supply for a life-rights retirement estate is presented as a case study. This enabled the investigation into shared water usage for irrigation of communal areas, as well as gardens of individual dwellings, eliminating the installation of dozens of wellpoints on estate properties thus ensuring sustainable usage and continued monitoring of the groundwater.

Concurrent development of the groundwater infrastructure during the housing estates development brings its own challenges, and requires special consideration during early phases of the project, where infrastructure damage is commonplace on large construction sites. Holistic water conservation strategies were implemented, such as the construction of permeable pavements to increase the amount of recharge to the underlying aquifer storage below the estate instead of trying to store rainwater in the limited surface space.

Utilising installed borehole equipment, an Aquifer Stress Test (AST) was undertaken to determine the aquifer parameters, sustainable yield of the individual boreholes and the wellfield as a whole, as well as inter borehole interactions. An AST allows for real world scenario aquifer testing to prove sufficient groundwater availability.

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Western Cape
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