An investigation of the natural groundwater recharge and discharge of the Saldanha Bay Aquifer Systems, South Africa

Saldanha Bay is partially dependent on groundwater as part of their bulk water supply, as surface water resources in the area are extremely limited and fully allocated. Due to this, there is lots of pressure on the groundwater resources by industrial development and residential growth. Despite studies being conducted on these aquifer systems since 1976, they are still poorly understood especially with regards to their recharge and discharge processes. This study aimed at providing better insight and understanding on the natural groundwater recharge and discharge processes in order to assist in the better management of groundwater resources in Saldanha Bay. Recharge investigations included a Time Domain Electromagnetic airborne geophysical survey, the assessment of groundwater levels, infiltration tests, hydrochemical analyses as well as stable and radioactive isotope analyses. These methods allowed for the delineation of the geological layers and extent, determination different water quality spatially across the aquifer, determination of flow paths through the saturated and unsaturated zones, identification of inter-aquifer flow as well as different recharge processes in the area. The results of this study showed that is highly likely that the Saldanha Bay Aquifers are mainly recharged via deep flow paths from the Aurora Mountain Range and Moorreesburg region. Investigations also showed that it is unlikely that the Aquifer Systems are recharged by local rainfall due to thick unsaturated sands and low annual rainfall, except for runoff at the foot of granite hills through focused recharge processes. The Berg River, Langebaan Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean were identified as being the main discharge zones for the area. It is recommended that further hydrogeological investigations are conducted in the Moorreesburg region in order to get a fuller picture of the regional groundwater recharge processes and flow to Saldanha Bay.

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Saldanah Bay
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