Conference Abstracts

All Abstracts were presented at the Groundwater Conferences

Displaying 1 - 50 of 574 results
Title Presenter Name Presenter Surname Area Conference year Keywords


This study investigates and elaborates the development and testing of a multilevel sampling device. The primary purpose of this device is to achieve multilevel sampling in a well simultaneously, producing samples that are representative of the in situ groundwater. The device has been designed to have four different depths from which extraction of groundwater samples can be performed. Testing of the device involves a two-part process. A laboratory based testing and field based testing. The laboratory testing was done in a simulated well where three water tests were performed; normal tap water, salt water and hot boiling water. The field based testing was done on existing boreholes in the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve in the Western Cape. In the two processes involved, hydrochemical parameters were used to test for the efficiency of the device in terms of its working performance and to furthermore analyse the water chemistry which enables us to determine the water quality.


In response to the serious 2015-2018 “Day Zero” drought, the City of Cape Town implemented large-scale augmentation of the Western Cape Water Supply System from deep groundwater resources within the Table Mountain Group (TMG) fractured aquifers. Several planned TMG wellfields target the Steenbras-Brandvlei Mega-fault Zone (SBMZ), the northern segment of which hosts the Brandvlei hot spring (BHS) – the hottest (~70°C) and strongest (~4 million m3/yr) in the Western Cape. Considering its possible “neohydrotectonic” origin, the BHS may mark the site of a major palaeo-earthquake, suggesting that SBMZ structures are prone to failure in the current crustal stress regime. Despite the “stable” intraplate tectonic setting, the SW Cape has experienced historic large (magnitude >6) earthquakes. Therefore, a better hydrogeological and seismotectonic understanding of the regional “mega-fault” structures is needed.

The South African TrigNet array of continuously recording Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) stations can be used to measure surface deformation related to confined aquifer depressurisation and vertical compression during groundwater abstraction. Time-series data from 12 TrigNet stations were used to establish a monitoring baseline for the SW Cape. Observed vertical motions range from slow subsidence to variable slow uplift with superimposed cyclical uplift/depression patterns of seasonal and multi-year variability. Baseline deformation/strain rates were calculated using 27 station pair lengths, ranging between compressive (-0.47 nanostrains/yr) and extensive limits (+0.58 ns/yr), indicating a rigid intraplate setting.

Anomalous high strain rates (> 10 ns/yr), associated with three stations, are probably due to station mount/foundation issues, rather than neo-seismic activity. Regional results show that seismo-geodetic monitoring is an important tool for understanding fractured aquifer compressibility and hydroseismicity, the latter of which may potentially be induced by large-scale TMG groundwater abstraction and/or natural earthquakes in the Western Cape. A local seismo-geodetic monitoring system is therefore being established at Steenbras Wellfield for further observations and analysis.


Globally, cumulative plastic production since 1950 is estimated to have reached 2500 Mt of plastic. It is estimated up 60% of this plastic is either resting in landfills or the natural environment, including groundwater settings. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic ranging between 1μm – 5mm in size and have been found in every ecosystem and environment on the planet. Much of the available literature on microplastics is focused on marine environments with few in comparison focused on freshwater environments, and even fewer on groundwater settings.

The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the attenuation process responsible for influencing microplastic transport in saturated sands. This research will adapt colloid transport theory and experiments to better understand the movement of microplastics through sandy media. Saturated aquifer conditions will be set up and simulated using modified Darcy column experiments adapted from Freeze & Cherry (1979). Modified microplastics will be injected into the columns as tracers and the effluent concentrations measured by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Breakthrough curves will then be plotted using the effluent concentrations to determine the attachment efficiency (α). It is expected the attachment efficiency will vary by microplastic type and size range. The Ionic strength of the solution flowing through the column and the surface charges of both microplastics and sandy surfaces are likely to influence the degree of attenuation observed. The relationship between different types of microplastics and collector surfaces from a charge perspective and their influence on the degree of attenuation will be evaluated.

Given the lack of literature, its ubiquitous presence and postulated effects on human health, this research is significant. Through this research, the transport and attenuation of microplastics through sandy aquifers can be better understood, and in the process inform future research and water resource management.


Fourie, F

Communities reacted differently to the drought. In some cases, you would notice a proactive approach and good management of the wellfields. In other cases, communities have been under a misconception that they received good rainfall for a recharge which did not reflect in monitoring data, and lastly, you get the communities that are mismanaging the groundwater. Various lessons were learned from the change in the climate and environment. But a lot can be done to minimise the impact of these changes on the water supply to communities. This paper addresses the changes that we can apply to deal with the changing environment around us to provide a sustainable water supply. The changes can include relooking at operating rules to ensure better management on the aquifer and borehole level. Recharge determined during pump test must be considered periods low to no recharge. Methods to enhance the recharge to the aquifer will ensure recharge occur during low rainfall events By implementing these rules, groundwater can be sustainably managed for future use.


The South African government is considering shale gas extraction in the Karoo basin, South Africa. To protect groundwater resources, there is an urgent need to do a groundwater baseline in possible gas extraction areas. Various groundwater samples have therefore been taken at a borehole and 2 soekor wells in the Northern Cape, from 2016 to 2021. The groundwater samples were analysed for dissolved gasses, specifically focussing on methane. As laboratories became more efficient ethane was also included in later analyses. From the analyses we found that drought might influence the dissolved gas concentrations in the groundwater via pressure influences on the groundwater flow and the dissolved gas flow towards the shallow aquifers. Artesian conditions at this site are helping with the flow of dissolved gasses from deep to shallow aquifers via preferential pathways. The possibility of shallow-deep groundwater interconnections and the migration of deep methane to shallow aquifers make it important to establish a groundwater baseline in the Karoo. By focusing on boreholes and wells that are emitting methane, a better understanding of groundwater flow and interaction with geological layers can be determined. If other gasses like propane and butane can be analysed in addition to methane, more information can be gathered to determine the origins of the methane and whether it is thermogenic or biogenic.


The proximity of aquifer systems to sources of contamination exposes them to severe environmental threats. Pollutants that leak from petrol stations, industrial areas and landfills eventually seep through the vadose zone to reach shallow groundwater, leading to groundwater contamination. One of these pollutants is Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MTBE), which is a polar organic compound that is volatile at room temperature. As a result of its high solubility compared to other gasoline additives, MTBE can cause serious environmental issues. The aims of this study were to characterize the extent of MTBE in groundwater and characterize natural attenuation in a Saudi Arabian MTBE and methanol manufacturing company.

The aims were achieved by analyzing monthly MTBE concentrations (to observe the seasonal changes of MTBE) and annual MTBE concentrations (to observe long-term changes) in 5 out of 18. Groundwater samples were collected, and in each year the MTBE, Total organic carbon (TOC) and Electrical conductivity (EC) concentrations were recorded. Because of inconsistency in the data, the results for the monthly data were from 2007 to 2010, and from 2007 to 2012 for the annual data. The results indicated a positive relationship between MTBE and TOC, and as a result TOC can be used to monitor and indicate the presence of MTBE. There was plume growth in 2 of the 5 wells (well 4 and well 14) with well 4 recording the highest MTBE concentration in all years. The reason for the high concentration might be because of spillages during truck loading. The other 3 wells showed signs of natural attenuation. Results from seasonal data suggested that temperature influences MTBE concentrations and therefore the rate of natural attenuation. There are many methods to remediate MTBE and each of them is site specific, but bioremediation was recommended for this site due to its cost-effectiveness.


Enslin,S; Webb, SJ

The Vredefort Dome 120 km southwest of Johannesburg is a meteorite impact crater that formed at approximately 2 Ga. The region hosts farmland, and the town of Parys is situated in the northwestern part of the dome. The dome is the location of the annual Wits University/AfricaArray Geophysical Field School. The aim of the field school is to teach geoscience students several geophysical techniques while conducting scientific research in the area.

A geophysical survey during the 2019 field school over an open field just outside of Parys revealed a buried fracture that hosts ground water. A 150 m long magnetic profile over the fractures shows a magnetic low (approximately 500 nT) that correlates with a low resistivity region on the inverted electrical resistivity data (dipole-dipole method). Euler deconvolution depth estimates and magnetic modelling estimate an overburden thickness of around 10 m and a similar fracture thickness. The magnetic low of the fracture is due to weathering and removal of any magnetic material in the granites in the region.

Two existing boreholes that lie 618m due south and at a 10 m lower elevation have water levels of around 6.4 m. Both boreholes lie near a riverbed and vegetation, and appear to lie along an extension to the fracture. This fractures detected using geophysical methods seems to form part of a larger fracture system within the Vredefort Dome, that is linked to the formation of the dome. These fractures provide a vital source of water for the local farming community.


Kürstein, J;  Thorn, P; Vermaak, N; Kotzé, YL; Pedersen, PG; Linneberg, MS; Fourie, F; Magingi, A

Water supply relies entirely on groundwater in Denmark. A national groundwater mapping programme was established in 2000 to protect this valuable resource. It builds on a thorough and holistic understanding of the hydrogeological settings, obtained through an extensive data collection, culminating with an identification of threats and aquifer vulnerablility. As part of the programme, new approaches, methods, and instruments have been developed, such as airborne geophysical survey by Sky-TEM that allows the mapping of large areas in a fine resolution. Another key element in the mapping is the development of three-dimensional hydrogeological and numerical models. These are used to understand the groundwater flow paths and delineate wellhead capture zones as well as infiltration areas, which, depending on the assessed vulnerability, may be subject to protective measures.

The Danish mapping approach have been tested at selected South African sites through the Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) between Denmark and South Africa. The approach was applied in a study supporting Umgeni Water to identify groundwater resources to supply numerous villages near the town of Ladysmith. The study illustrated a high potential for adapting relevant parts of the Danish approach to South Africa, but also revealed some challenges, e.g. related to the fractured geology, where groundwater recharge can be concentrated along dykes, a process very different from what is generally observed in Denmark.

The SSC has initialised the project “South African Groundwater Mapping and Assessment Approach (SAGMAA)” to share knowledge gain through the national groundwater mapping programme in Denmark with South Africa and explore the possibility of adapting elements from the Danish approach to South African conditions in a broader context. The objective of the project is to provide recommendations to South African guidelines, and the paper will present results from the comparison of approaches in the two countries and preliminary recommendations to guidelines.


The Smuts House in Centurion is under threat of subsidence due to sinkholes. These sinkholes are linked to the Malmani Dolomite Formation, a Proterozoic carbonate sequence within the Chuniespoort Group of the Transvaal Supergroup, and is subject to sinkhole development (Clay, 1981). In addition to Smuts House, the areas are populated by thousands of people meaning risk of financial damage and, in some cases, loss of property and lives (Trollip, 2006).

The Jan Smuts House Museum is located in a natural park of indigenous trees and shrubs. The area is generally flat-lying; however, various ridges bisect the site in a north-south trend. A koppie (Cornwall Hill) is situated in the north. Outcrops of dolomite and chert characterise most of the study area. The two major streams in the area are that of the Sesmylspruit and Olifantspruit.

This study was undertaken to examine the relationship between subsidence of the Smuts House Museum, subsurface features (geological and anthropogenic) and the local geology. Magnetic and resistivity, active seismic and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) geophysical data were collected, along with x-ray fluorescence (XRF) geochemical data and hydrogeological data.


Wiegmans, FE

The increasing water demand for the Northern Cape Province resulted in the detailed assessment of the exploitation potential of three groundwater development target areas namely SD1, SD2 and SD4, largely underlain by karst aquifers. Since 2014 the implementation of the wellfields was delayed pending authorisation. The potential impact on the groundwater resources was raised by several stakeholders as part of the process, resulting in the re-assessment of the SD1 and SD2 wellfields. The model update considered crucial data retrieved from several groundwater level loggers from April 2014 to December 2019. As a precursor to the model update the Cumulative Rainfall Departure (CRD) curves for the relevant rainfall stations for the study areas was updated. While for most sites a good relationship between rainfall and groundwater fluctuations was observed. A poor response of groundwater levels in comparison to the observed CRD curve suggests abstractions more than the recharge of the aquifer. Metered groundwater use is for most parts not available but was estimated based on the hydrocensus data. Once the models demonstrated to reproduce past behaviour, they were used to forecast the future behaviour. More importantly was to assess whether the 2014 proposed abstraction rates still held true after the re-calibration of the model. Several simulations were carried out iteratively to identify the optimal pumping rates and the temporal variability of the withdrawal period considering the impact on the groundwater resource. Based on the results the 2014 proposed production rates were reduced from 751,608 m3/month to 597,432 m3/month representing a 2019 mitigated (optimised) proposed abstraction scenario. The case study is an excellent example of adaptive groundwater management informed by crucial datasets and scenario modelling.


Water is regarded as a source of life and access to potable water supply delivery remains the building block to improving and maintaining the community member’s health and productive life. The demand for water supply has been increasing due to population growth and climate change phenomena. Hence, there is need to assess the current state of potable water supply system in selected rural areas of Vhembe District Municipality (VDM), South Africa. About 14 villages in VDM were visited to assess the state of water supply. Interview were held with three municipal officials who deals with water supply systems and 14 focus group discussions were held in each village with the communities and their leaders. 448 head of households, 14 councillors completed the questionnaires on potable water supply situation in their area. The results indicated that the main sources of water supply are boreholes followed by tap water from dams. In areas where the two sources are not available, the rivers, fountain and the water tankers were also the main sources. In terms of water usage, the boreholes recorded the highest responses of 45% from households, followed by the tap water from dams at 35%, 4% from rivers, 5% from fountain and 10% from water tankers. In addition, about 53.6% of participants collect water once a week from the main source (boreholes and tap water from dams). Rural communities of Vhembe District Municipality were not satisfied with the quantity, distance and reliability of boreholes. Therefore, this article recommended that the municipality, communities, councillors and traditional leaders should work together in addressing the pressing water issues. Part of which include provision of more sources of water to complement growing population. In addition, village water committees need to be established to assist in water provision management.


The West Coast in the Western Cape of South Africa is a water-scarce area. With pressure from population and industrial growth, recurring droughts and climate change, there is increasing urgency in the West Coast to protect groundwater resources. Saldanha Bay is dependent on groundwater as part of its bulk water supply system. Where the natural groundwater recharge is no longer sufficient to meet the growing groundwater needs, practices such as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) can be used to ensure the sustainability of these groundwater resources.

This study aims to identify areas within the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality suitable for Managed Aquifer Recharge to maximize the water available during periods of limited surface water supply. As such, the MAR study site identification requires a comprehensive geohydrological assessment of the Saldanha Bay aquifer. This includes an understanding of the quality and quantity of the source water available for recharge, the aquifer structure and hydraulic properties, the space available to store water, and the compatibility of the recharged water with the groundwater.

MAR research methods included Time Domain Electromagnetic (TDEM) airborne geophysical surveys, infiltration tests, pumping tests and hydrochemical analysis. TDEM surveys provided clarity on the various aquifer geological properties. Infiltration and pumping tests shed light on the horizontal and vertical hydraulic properties of the aquifer. PhreeqC modelling outputs helped predict the outcome of the mixing between groundwater and potential MAR water resources.

Geological features were delineated through TDEM surveys and inferred five suitable MAR sites where clay layers were missing. Infiltration and pumping tests showed that Langebaan Road is better suited to borehole injection, whereas Hopefield has the benefit of infiltration MAR techniques as an additional option. PhreeqC outputs exhibit that both pipeline and Berg River water show promising results as potential source water resources for MAR as compared to other resources.


Lourens, PJ

West of the world-renowned conservation site, Kruger National Park, lies the larger extent of the Greater Kruger National Park within the Limpopo province. Boreholes have been drilled here in the last few decades to century for the provision of water supply to game lodges, large resorts, watering holes for game viewing and also historically for agriculture and livestock. The area contains both primary and secondary aquifers classified as having yields between 0.5 and 5.0 l/s, based on the geological setting which consist of gneiss intruded by dolerite dyke swarms. A geohydrological assessment of the area revealed that groundwater quality within the project area is characterised as having an EC of 100 - 450 mS/m, which seems to link to borehole proximity to surface water systems. The Makhutswi Gneiss and Doleritic Dyke swarms are the major controlling geology of the area, with higher yielding boreholes located in close proximity to dykes and major structural lineaments (faulted / weathered zones) of the Gneiss. A major concern identified through geohydrological assessment and hydrocensus observations is that boreholes frequently dry up after a few years and require either deeper drilling / redrilling or drilling a new borehole and that the very aggressive calcium hardness in the water frequently damages equipment and leads to overall higher maintenance costs. This project investigates the feasibility of increasing recharge to the aquifer with seasonal flooding / rainfall events by constructing artificially enhanced recharge locations overlaying several doleritic dykes. This is expected to decrease the salinity and hardness of the groundwater, which will reduce operational costs. Water security will also be increased through enhanced long-term sustainability of the groundwater by balancing some of the current annual abstraction.


The year 2020 will forever be synonymous with the Covid-19 pandemic and the immeasurable impact it has had on all our lives. During this time, there was one avenue that reigned supreme: technology. Whether it was Zoom calls or Netflix, online consultations or video conferencing at work, technology took charge. In light of this, GCS (Pty) Ltd started exploring ways that technology could assist with the most common problem identified in the Water and Environmental sectors, which is the management of large volumes of geodata. Thus, the invention of eSymon.

Monitoring of the environment usually generates a significant amount of data. If this data is not systematically stored, problems often arise with:

• Limited access to historical data due to poor storage;

• Different formats of stored data (if they are kept in digital form at all);

• Continuity and integrity of the data; and

• Security of the data.

Therefore, years of historical data cannot be used or trusted. The solution was to develop eSymon, which is an acronym for Electronic Data Management System for Monitoring. eSymon is primarily designed to:

• Systematically import, store, view and manipulate large volumes of monitoring data;

• Provide remote and instantaneous access to site-specific information;

• Allow data visualization using an interactive GIS interface; and

• Create various outputs such as time series graphs, geochemical diagrams and contour maps.

The main idea of the software is to have all historical data for a site on one platform and have it be accessible and functional at the touch of a button. This results in several key benefits, including saving time, providing accurate and up to date information, not having to wait for technical reports to assess trends and compliance, providing several means of data visualization and, most importantly, ensuring data security.


This study is based on the presence and concentration of antiretroviral drugs in water bodies around the Western Cape Province in South Africa, these areas include wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, stormwater, and landfill boreholes. South Africa has the highest rate of HIV and AIDS in the entire world, statistics from 2018 show that 7.7 million South Africans are infected with HIV/AIDS and 68% of them are on antiretroviral treatment (UNAIDS). South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment program (ART) in the world, due to the lack of proper water and sanitation these drugs are deposited in the environment poorly and reach water bodies, therefore, contaminating them. This study involves the collection of samples from areas such as Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Athlone, Cape Flats, and Atlantis around the western cape, these samples are analyzed to determine the presence of 5 antiretroviral drugs used in South Africa which are Efavirens, Lopinavir, Nevirapine, Ritonavir, and Tenofovir. Water samples are prepared for analysis by filtering 2.5ml water through a 1µm glass fiber filter, the sample is then placed into sample vials and analyzed on HPLC-QTOF/MS. Mass Hunter software is used to identify the specific ARVs in the water samples analyzed, by searching for the compounds via their chemical formulas. With a match made if their chemical formula, retention time and mass to charge ratio of the compounds correspond. Concentrations range between 0.0855ng/ml Nevapine to 4.3289ng/ml Lopinavir, this analysis has determined that all the mentioned antiretroviral drugs are indeed present in different water bodies around the identified areas within the Western Cape in varying concentrations.


During 2017-2018, the City of Cape Town, South Africa faced an unprecedented drought crisis with the six main water storages supplying Cape Town falling to a combined capacity of just under 20%. With the threat of severe water shortages looming, various additional water sources were examined to supplement the municipal water supply network. These were focussed on groundwater, desalination and treated effluent. However, private citizens and businesses also made plans to avoid shortages, resulting in numerous uncontrolled water sources competing with the municipal supply network. Throughout the crisis, groundwater was considered the most important alternative urban water supply source but also the most vulnerable to contamination through accidental and uncontrolled return flows from the municipal network, private residences and agricultural industries. This project aims to constrain the water supply network in the Stellenbosch municipality and monitor the augmentation of groundwater into the network using stable isotopes. Long term monitoring points have been established at 35 tap water sites, 20 private wells as well as at the supply reservoirs that feed the municipal network. Preliminary data show’s distinct isotopic signals associated with each supply reservoir as well as in the local groundwater. The data also shows significant return flow into the alluvial aquifer system during warmer months when private stakeholder’s water consumption is at its highest. Groundwater is expected to supplement this urban supply network in the latter part of 2021 and will likely disrupt the current distribution of stable isotopes in the network, providing further insight into the potential return flow into the local groundwater system.


Saldanha Bay Local Municipality appointed Skytem to conduct an airborne geophysical 3D aquifer mapping survey. As part of improving the sustainable management of the groundwater resources and exploring the options of Managed Aquifer Recharge, a better understanding of the aquifers is required. The Skytem technology unlocked a rich understanding of the subsurface geology and the groundwater contained in it.

Before the main survey commenced, a trial survey was conducted to investigate the quality of the data that may be expected from the main survey. The trial survey was conducted over the existing water supply wellfield where there were existing groundwater data including borehole lithology from drilling and ground geophysics. Consequently, the main survey commenced and consisted of the following:
1) Magnetic survey providing information regarding bedrock composition and where it changes due to faults or deposition,
2) Time Domain Electromagnetic survey providing conductivity/resistivity of the subsurface,
3) Detailed elevation along flight paths, and
4) 50Hz signal to understand where interferences can be due to power lines.

The survey interpretation showed the following important aquifer characteristics that will be useful for future management of the aquifer system:
1) Bedrock elevation and paleo topography, 2) Areas with different bedrock composition, 3) Geological faults in the bedrock, 4) Bedrock below the surface, 5) Areas with thick dry sand, 6) Clay layer extent and area without clay, 7) Areas with different water quality, and 8) Areas with very high concentrations of salt.

The survey output and interpretations are regarded as very useful for the update of the conceptual models for the area. Data can now be used to update the numerical models and improve the management of the wellfields.


Monitoring groundwater storage is conducted in the study. World Health Organisation estimates, about 55 million people affected by drought yearly. However, Surface water holds 0.3 percent of the freshwater, and groundwater holds 30.1 percent of the freshwater. Hence, monitoring groundwater storage is vital. Though the GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) satellite provides global-scale groundwater data, but does not provide any information about changes in groundwater flow systems and has uncertainties, due to large noise produced. A correlation has to be established between gravity changes and groundwater storage variations through a program that simulates the flow of groundwater. The relationship between developed numerical models and data derived from superconducting gravity is imperative. This study is conducted in South African Geodynamic Observatory Sutherland (SAGOS) area at Sutherland, South Africa. The study aims to develop a numerical geohydrological model to monitor subsurface variations in water distribution through superconducting gravimeters (SG) records. The interpretation of the SG measurements to directly compare to one another at a higher resolution is considered in the study, through the correlation of the developed model and installed superconducting gravimetric residual data. A numerical groundwater flow model is developed using model muse on MODFLOW. Assigned boundary conditions, fractured rocks were activated by the model. Hydraulic conductivities were simulated for any layer, including storage coefficient. Hence, hydraulic conductivity is an important aspect of the study. In conclusion, gravity is an excellent tool for measuring groundwater recharge within the immediate vicinity of the SAGOS. This implies that gravity can aid in monitoring groundwater recharge and discharge in semi-arid areas. The application of the hydrological model at various scales comparing the Superconducting Gravimeter and GRACE satellite data is paramount to improve modelling groundwater dynamics. The consideration of developing numerical hydrological to monitor groundwater storage will add much value to missing information.


Managed aquifer recharge (MAR), the purposeful recharge of water to aquifers for subsequent recovery, is used globally to replenish over-exploited groundwater resources and to prevent saltwater intrusion. Due to increased water shortage worldwide, there is a growing interest in using unconventional water resources for MAR such as reclaimed water or surface water impaired by wastewater discharges. This, however, raises major concerns related to pollution of our drinking water resources. MARSA is a new Danish-South African research project aiming at developing MAR technologies allowing a broader span of water resources to be used for MAR, including storm water, river water, saline water, and even treated wastewater. It is hypothesised that improved removal of organic pollutants, nitrogen species, antibiotic resistance, and pathogens can be achieved by establishment of reactive barriers or creation of different redox environments through injection of oxidizing agents to anaerobic aquifers during recharge. In MARSA we will carry out feasibility studies, as flow-through columns, first in Denmark and later in South Africa, to investigate the capacity of South African aquifer sediments to remove organic pollutants, nitrogen species, antibiotic resistance genes, and pathogens. Then, based on these studies, MAR options will be further investigated at field conditions in South Africa using real source water from MAR sites. For this presentation we will give an overview of the MARSA-project and show results from previous feasibility studies investigating the potential of reactive barriers to remove organic micropollutants and ammonium. These studies have shown that establishment of reactive barriers will cause oxygen depletion, but also more efficient ammonium and organic micro-pollutant removal. MARSA is funded by the DANIDA fellowship centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Project no. 20-M03GEUS.


It has become increasingly apparent that understanding fractured rock mechanics as well as the interactions and exchanges between groundwater and surface water systems are crucial considering the increase in demand of each in recent years. Especially in a time where long term sustainability is of great importance for many water management agencies, groundwater professionals and the average water users. Previous callow experience has shown that there is a misunderstanding in the correct interpretation and analyses of pumping test data. The fracture characterisation (FC) method software provides a most useful tool in the overall understanding of a fractured rock aquifer, quantification of the aquifer’s hydraulic (flow regime and flow boundary conditions) and physical properties, only if the time-drawdown relationships are correctly interpreted and when the theoretical application principles are applied. Interpretation is not simply a copy and paste of the aquifer test data into the software to get a quick answer (especially when project time constraints are considered), however, recent experiences with numerous field examples, required intricate understanding of the geological environment, intended use and abstraction schedules coupled with the academic applications on which the software was based for correct interpretation.

Through the application of correct interpretation principles, a plethora of flow information becomes available, of which examples will be provided in the presentation itself. By achieving this, flow can be conceptualised for inputs into a conservative scale three-dimensional numerical flow model and calibrated based on measurable data in a fraction of the time of a conventional regional model. Although higher confidence levels are achieved with these practical solutions, monitoring programmes are still required to provide better insight of the aquifer responses to long-term abstraction and recovery.


Mabenge B; Famah FIB

Groundwater resources are under increased pressure from population growth, climate change and human activities, leading to widespread groundwater depletion and pollution. It is important, as groundwater professionals to communicate to the younger generation and the broader community, about this vital resource. The Groundwater Kids Educational Program was initiated in November 2020, to educate and share groundwater knowledge amongst primary and high school learners. The program consists of a series of 1 – 2 hour groundwater educational workshops held at schools throughout Gauteng Province. Each workshop comprises a short educational video clip on a selected groundwater topic, followed by an activity that involves the topic of the day, and distribution of groundwater awareness material. Lessons are prepared based on the age group and the level of comprehension of the learners. Learners get the opportunity to engage in activities designed to make learning about groundwater more exciting. These workshops provide a knowledge base for our children participate in efforts to save this resource in generations to come.


Israel, S; Kanyerere, T

Globally, surface waters are severely unsustainably exploited and under pressure in semi-arid coastal regions, which results in increasing demand for groundwater resources. Currently, Cape Town and its neighbouring towns along the West Coast of South Africa are facing water shortage related problems. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is a nature based solution to improve groundwater security in drought prone regions such as the West Coast. The objective of this study was to design a groundwater monitoring network using a hybrid hydrochemical, geophysical and numerical modelling approach to assess and mitigate the potential impacts of MAR for the West Coast Aquifer System (WCAS). An Analytical Hierarchy Process method was used to perform a Multi-criteria analysis employed in GIS (ArcMap 10.3).

The factors of importance for optimized groundwater monitoring network design were based on available data and consultations with hydrogeologists and environmental scientist at stakeholder workshops. The factors which were considered included: elevation (m), geology, density of existing boreholes (wells/km2), electrical conductivity (mS/m), water rise (m), water level decline (m), transmissivity (m/day), saturation indices and lithological thickness (m). Factors were weighted based on their level of importance for the design of the groundwater monitoring network using Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Priorities were calculated from pairwise comparisons using the AHP with Eigen vector method. The Consistency Ratio (CR) calculated was 5.2% which deems the weighting coefficients statistically acceptable. The results show that high priority monitoring areas occurs in the areas where there are fresh groundwater, high borehole density, elevated topography, higher recharge rates and decline in water levels are found. The monitoring network will include boreholes from the low priority areas to ensure that hydrogeological conditions are monitored and impacts are not worsened. Geophysical, numerical and chemical modelling aspects of the methodological approach will be incorporated into the initial groundwater monitoring network design.



With increasing population growth and a subsequently increased demand for food production, the agricultural sector has had to grow and develop continuously despite drought-stricken water resources in recent years. The expansion in this sector requires increasingly efficient water use management and increases in water supplies, which are often met through groundwater utilization. In the past several years the use of groundwater in the Western Cape has increased exponentially and thus has forced the sharing of resources. The question pertains to how an invisible water resource that is difficult to measure and quantify, can be shared. Issues of varying complexities can arise when submitting a water use licence application (WULA), such as historical water use debates, interactions between groundwater and surface water, seasonal stresses on resources, etc. In one case study in De Doorns, a WULA became side-tracked soon after initiation by a neighbour’s complaint that his production borehole was severely affected by the drilling of the applicant’s boreholes. In the second case study in the Hexriver Valley, a WULA was complicated by a gentleman’s agreement stating that no one in the valley is allowed to abstract groundwater from deeper than 6 m. This gentleman’s agreement stems from past disagreements regarding such practices. The final case study was not a WULA but arose out of concerns for dropping weir levels connected to a new borehole. The borehole was equipped with new casing to case off the alluvium; it was suspected to be the cause of the disturbance. The scientific method was used to evaluate the borehole’s impact on the weir. Case studies such as these will become more prevalent as the demand on water resources will increase. Hydrogeologists needs to more informed of the complexities that can and will arise in the future as a result of shared water resources.


The impact of the future closure of the KROPZ phosphate mine in the West Coast on the various potential receptors including the underlying Elandsfontein Aquifer System (EAS), Langebaan Lagoon (RAMSAR-site) and wetlands were assessed. This abstract/paper describes the geochemical characterization and management options related to the waste streams from the mining activity, to assess the post closure contribution to groundwater flow from the mine towards potential receptors. The PHREEQC geochemical modelling code was used to predict potential mine water impacts. The input water quality parameters used in the model included: background groundwater quality, pit water and processed water generated from phosphate separation process at the mine. Various scenarios were simulated combining the different process water streams with the tailings and soft stockpile material at the mine. The geochemical predictions showed some management options that should be prevented, while also providing guidance to promising options where most of the chemical parameters does not exceed the WUL stage 1 thresholds. There is however, an increase in sulphate concentrations that need attending to before the mine goes into production phase. Currently there seems to be no immediate concern on the Lagoon relating to the prediction of mine water impacts post mine closure. Some of the management scenarios do however show low levels of potential impacts on SANParks property 100 years post closure. These predictions do however correlate to areas where limited calibration data is available. At the time of this abstract the sites for new boreholes have been selected and the initial boreholes are being drilled to confirm aquifer properties in areas with limited data.


The study area is located in a Swiss alpine valley at the border between Switzerland and France and is situated in Valais. It is delimited by the hydrologic catchment of the river “La Vièze de Morgins”. The catchment area is situated in the Municipality of Troistorrents and of Monthey. Its population is approximately 4500 inhabitants. From the geological point of view, the valley “Val de Morgins” is mostly comprised of sedimentary rocks, amongst others breccia, schist, flysch, limestone, and quaternary sediments. The valley is affected by several natural hazards, such as landslides, rockfalls, and avalanches. Hydrogeologically, the valley contains few main springs that are outlets of porous and fissured aquifers. For this study, an inventory and monitoring of springs and rivers has been carried out since 2018 until April 2021. Particularly, more than 110 springs and rivers have been registered and observed during this time. The data includes GPS coordinates, photos, measurements of physical-chemical parameters and flowrates. Complementary to measurements, specific geological and topographical maps, and site information have been gathered. The analysis and interpretation of this huge set of hydrogeological data will be concluded with a new and innovative approach using different data science libraries that are implemented for the Python programming language. In this case study, groundwater sampling training is used to increase the understanding of the water quality. Four years of field measurements enable a better understanding of the parameter variability in relation to seasonality. Furthermore, new data analysis can aid the integrated resource management for the municipal water supply. The sampling and monitoring are key aspects to ensure water security, in terms of quality and volume. Additionally, it can also unlock prospective groundwater resources for municipal water supply. Case study data will also be compared with South African and other Swiss dataset of similar aquifer type.


Ewart Smith, J; Snaddon, K; de Beer, J; Murray, K; Harillal, Z; Frenzel, P; Lasher-Scheepers, C

Various analysis techniques are available for assessing the groundwater dependence of ecosystems. Hydrogeological monitoring within the Kogelberg and greater Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifer has provided various datasets from multiple scientific disciplines (hydrological, hydrogeological, geochemical, climatic, ecological and botanical). Using a variety of analysis techniques, and using the Kogelberg as a case study, this paper assesses the groundwater dependence of several ecological sites (wetlands and streams). The starting point is a sound geological and hydrogeological conceptualisation of the site. The approach involves conceptualisation and analysis within each scientific discipline, but also requires bridging between areas of specialisation and analysis of a variety of datasets. This paper presents the data and analyses undertaken and the relevant results as they pertain to several sites within the Kogelberg.


Estimating pumping rates for the purpose of equipping boreholes with suitable pumps that will not over abstract either the boreholes or the aquifer(s) that are intersected is often assessed through test pumping of the boreholes prior to pump selection. While the South African National Standard has guidelines on the methodologies and durations of these tests (SANS 10299-4:2003), many production boreholes in the agricultural and industrial sectors are still equipped based upon so called Farmer Tests or Pump Inlet Tests (PIT), often of a short (6-24 hour) duration. These tests are also frequently and incorrectly confused with a Constant Head Test (CHT), both of which are different in methodology to SANS 10299-4:2003 testing, which relies to a high degree on data collected during a Constant Discharge/Rate Test (CDT or CRT) and recovery thereafter. The study will assess differences in test pumping methodology, data collection, analysis methodology and final recommendations made between Farmer Tests and SANS 10299-4:2003 methodology tests for 20 boreholes in which both tests were performed. The selected sites cover a variety of geological and hydrogeological settings in the Western Cape. Test comparisons include boreholes drilled into the Malmesbury Group, Table Mountain Group and Quaternary alluvial deposits, with tested yields ranging from 0.5 – 25 L/s.


As populations, agricultural and industrial demands grow with time, increasing attention is placed on developing groundwater resources in a sustainable manner. At the small, local scale, this tends to involve exploration (scientific and otherwise) and test pumping (also subject to more and less scientific methods). While there can be some subjectivity in the analysis of scientific test pumping data (the selection of representative periods of drawdown stability, the inclusion of potential boundary conditions and the estimation of available drawdown), published methodologies such as the FC method (2001) and the Q20 (1959) and R20 (2006) concepts attempt to calculate sustainable abstraction rates based on these tests. At a larger catchment or aquifer scale, water balance estimates of inflows, storage and outflows are also used to estimate the effects of groundwater abstraction within such a “water budget”. This can be done conceptually, but is often also through a numerical model. A drawback of such methods is the difficulty in estimating representative annual inflow volumes, such as groundwater recharge. One such methodology is the Aquifer Firm Yield Model (2012) which assesses sustainable groundwater supplies based on threshold recharge inflows, baseflow and evapotranspiration outflows, and a 5 m aquifer saturated fluctuation limit. While this was intended for use at a preliminary stage of investigations, before sufficient hydrogeological data would be available for a numerical model, it nonetheless provides an estimate of the available groundwater for abstraction based on a water budget concept rather than test pumping data analysis. A comparison of the results of these two approaches is provided for several newly developed municipal production boreholes in the Karoo to compare where the assumptions inherent to each approach may be highlighted by noticeable differences in results.


Maphumulo B; Mahed G

Disastrous droughts sweeping across South Africa has led to the population turning towards groundwater as their primary source of water. This groundwater movement has increased the need for proper groundwater management in terms of both quality and quantity. Groundwater sampling is a crucial, and yet often overlooked, component of water quality assessment and management. This thesis evaluated the various groundwater sampling methods used within fractured rock aquifers in the Beaufort West region. Each sampling method was evaluated in terms of their precision and accuracy according to their hydrochemical results. Historical hydrochemical data from past reports was utilised to determine how various groundwater sampling techniques influence results. This helped gained a better understanding of the requirements required to correctly and accurately sample different water sources such as boreholes and windmills. These requirements include the importance of purging in order to remove stagnant water from windmills. By understanding these sampling techniques, it is possible to create a groundwater sampling protocol which should be followed when sampling fractured rock aquifer in order to ensure best possible results.


Approximately 982 km3 /annum of the world’s groundwater reserve is abstracted, providing almost half of all drinking water worldwide. Globally, 70% is used for agricultural purposes while 38% for irrigation.

Most water resources of South Africa are threatened by contamination caused by industrial, agricultural, and commercial activities, and many parts of the country face ongoing drought with an urgent need to find alternative freshwater sources, such as groundwater. Groundwater constitutes approximately 15% of the total volume consumed, hence it is an important resource that supplements insufficient surface water supplies across South Africa.

Very little attention has been afforded to understanding the anthropogenically altered vadose zone as a potential source or buffer to groundwater contamination. This is evident from few research studies that has applied multiple isotopic tracers to characterise this zone. Most subsurface systems in South Africa are characterised by fractures, whereby flow and transport are concentrated along preferential flow paths.

This study aims to evaluate the performance of different tracer classes (environmental and artificial) with one another, and create a better understanding of the hydraulic properties, mean residence time and transport mechanisms of these tracers. The influence of unsaturated zone thickness on recharge mechanisms will also be evaluated.

Site visits will be conducted for the proposed study areas, and the neighbouring sources of contamination will be assessed. The matric potential and unsaturated hydraulic conductivities will be measured using various techniques. Water samples will be collected and analysed for the various tracers from the vadose zone using gravity lysimeters including suction cups. Several tracers will also be injected into boreholes where samples will be collected to calculate tracer residence times (BTC’s) and further constrain the hydraulic properties of the vadose zone. All samples will be analysed, interpreted, and simulated using the numerical finite-element modelling code SPRING, developed by delta h. The software derives quantitative results for groundwater flow and transport problems in the saturated and unsaturated zones of an aquifer.

The research is expected to provide more insight into the selection and use of environmental and artificial tracers as markers for detecting, understanding the transport processes and pathways of contaminants in typical altered South African subsurface environments. The impact derived improved characterisation of the pathways, transport, and migration processes of contaminants, leading to groundwater protection strategies and appropriate conceptual and numerical models. The output from this study will determine the vertical and horizontal flux for both saturated and unsaturated conditions.


Stringent drinking water standards for constituents like chromium, arsenic, and nitrates, combined with continually higher demand for groundwater resources have led to the need for more efficient and accurate well characterization. Many boreholes are screened across multiple aquifers to maximize groundwater production, and since these aquifers can have different water qualities, the water produced at the wellhead is a blend of the various water qualities. Furthermore, the water entering a well may not be distributed equally across the screened intervals, but instead be highly variable based on the transmissivity of the aquifers, the depth of the pump intake, the pumping rate, and whether any perforations are sealed off due to physical, chemical, or biological plugging. By identifying zones of high and low flows and differing water qualities, well profiling is a proven technology that helps optimize operational groundwater production from water supply boreholes or remediation systems. This frequently results in increased efficiencies and reduced treatment costs. By accurately defining groundwater quantity and quality, dynamic profiling provides the data needed to optimize well designs. Conventional exploration methods frequently rely on selecting well screen intervals based on performing and analyzing drill stem tests for one zone at a time. Using dynamic flow and water quality profiling, the transmissivity and water quality can be determined for multiple production zones in a matter of one to two days. It also allows the location and size of the test intervals to be adjusted in the field, based on real-time measurements.

In this paper we discuss dynamic well profiling techniques with project case examples of characterization different types groundwater boreholes for a variety of applications and industries resulting in significant cost saving and sustainable water abstraction.


Modie LT; Stephens M

Stable isotopes and hydrochemical analysis were undertaken to investigate groundwater-surface water (GW-SW) interactions and their possible implications on the quality and quantity of water in the karstified dolomite-dominated Notwane River Catchment (NRC) in semi-arid South East (SE) Botswana. Stable isotopes (δ18O & δ2H) and other hydrochemical parameters were analyzed from water samples (groundwater, river water and rain) collected in the upstream, middle stream and downstream of the Ramotswa Wellfields to investigate the potential GW-SW relationship in the study area. In addition field observation were also undertaken to support results obtained through stable isotopes and hydrochemical methods. Similarity in isotopic signatures taken during the dry and wet seasons respectively for groundwater (δ18O -1.4‰, δ2H -10.8‰; δ18O 1.4-‰, δ2H -10.9‰) and surface water(δ18O -2.04‰, δ2H -6.2 ‰; δ18O -2.56‰, δ2H -7.1‰) suggests groundwater recharge through the streambed at a site further downstream in the study area. In upstream study sites the average groundwater isotopic signature values of (δ2H -24.1,δ18O -4.1) suggests a more direct link to the Meteoric Water Line(MWL) indicating possibility of a rapid infiltration and quick watershed response to heavier rainfall events(δ2H -51.7, δ18O -8.6) rather than recharge through the riverbed. A further assessment on the GW-SW hydrochemistry was provided using Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) to investigate the influence of groundwater on stream water. The median EC values from the clusters are in an increasing order Cluster A-B2-B1 indicating cluster A(all river samples) as the most dilute samples with the shortest resident time relative to the groundwater clusters(B2 and B1). These results therefore rules out groundwater discharge through the streambed into the river as not a dominant process for GW-SW interaction in the study area. The study has concluded that GW-SW interactions in the NRC part under study vary from connected to no connection from one site to another.


Sternophysingids are a group of stygobitic amphipods that inhabit groundwater networks characterised by large fractures, cracks and voids, as well as smaller pores, fissures, cavernous openings and interstitial spaces. Two species occurring in Gauteng, South Africa, Sternophysinx filaris and Sternophysinx calceola, were studied using morphological descriptions and molecular analyses to elucidate the distribution, evolutionary history, phylogeny and population structure. The population structure and distribution of stygobitic amphipods is a reflection of the physical structure of groundwater networks, and their evolutionary history can be used to understand the formation of groundwater bodies. S.filaris is a small and common inhabitant of aquifers in the northern regions of the country, while S. calceola occurs in many of the same locations but is much larger and rarer. No morphological differences were observed between individuals of different populations of S. filaris or S. calceola and detailed illustrations have been provided for each. This finding is not believed to be indicative of a high degree of connectivity within the subterranean groundwater network, lending to high rates of gene flow, instead, these morphological similarities are a symptom of cryptic speciation. Sternophysingids are likely to arise from an very ancient and widespread ancestor inhabiting much of Gondwanaland prior to its breakup. Using the COI gene, S. calceola collected from the type locality in Matlapitse Cave was successfully PCR-amplified and sequenced. Phylogenies were constructed using a limited variety of crangonyctoid sequences and the sternophysingids were confirmed to belong to the Crangonyctoidea superfamily, being most closely allied with the Western Australian paramelitids. The relationship between these groups is still distant and ancient; it is expected that the South African paramelitids would be more closely related, as well as other African, Madagascan and Indian crangonyctoids.


Governing groundwater in a way that does not deplete the source of water, nor cause any form of degradation is a global challenge. In South Africa, scholarship shows an extensive history of groundwater governance doctrines. Yet, the country’s groundwater remained a poorly governed resource. A recent regulatory regime change culminated in the National Water Act 36 of 1998 (NWA), which was specifically promulgated to ‘provide for fundamental reform of the law relating to water resources’. While the NWA provided an ideal opportunity for the judicious governance of South Africa’s groundwater, groundwater governance remain problematic. The regulatory focus is still very much on surface water. In fact, up to date, no regulations have been made to specifically protect vulnerable aquifers, or aquifers on which communities depend as a source of water supply, or aquifers that supports large scale agriculture. This paper sets out to achieve three objectives: to assess South Africa’s existing regulatory approach to the protection of groundwater; to identify gaps in the regulatory framework; and to explore regulatory opportunities to strengthen groundwater governance. The discussion follows a focussed approach, and hinges on the case of the dolomitic aquifer of Delmas. The Delmas case study is expected to show why policy makers and planners need to be more concerned about groundwater. It will also introduce, explain and propose an established international or foreign legal measure that may be incorporated to strengthen the regulatory status of the Delmas aquifer. The paper concludes with recommendations for strengthening South Africa’s groundwater regulation.


When conducting water quality monitoring, questions arise on which water quality guidelines to use and where to apply them. For example, the use of South African Water Quality Guidelines (SAWQG) for Domestic usage compared to the use of the South African National Standards (SANS) for Potable Water Quality when monitoring drinking water quality. The World Heath Organization (WHO) published a set of water quality guidelines for drinking water which can also be used instead of SANS. Using various water quality guidelines to assess water quality can give different outcomes on the state of water quality of a particular site. For example, SANS water quality guidelines are less strict when compared to the SAWQG target values, however, SAWQG are comprised of different sets of standards for different usages. SAWQG distinguish between drinking water, livestock and irrigation, aquatic systems and industrial usage while SANS are only used for potable or bottled water. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) that is part of the World Bank Group published the Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Guidelines for Environmental Wastewater and Ambient Water Quality, guidelines set specifically for wastewater and ambient water quality. Utilizing this poster, I will explain when to use which guidelines with different types of water samples. I will also discuss the stringent water use license limits applied at some sites compared to the national standards of South Africa.


Surface water has traditionally been the primary resource for water supply in South Africa. While relatively easy to assess and utilise, the surface water resource is vulnerable to climatic conditions, where prolonged periods of drought can lead to an over-exploitation and eventually water shortness and supply failure. Following the drought in 2018, more focus has been given to the groundwater resource to supplement the water supply in South Africa.

In the Saldanha Bay municipality the water supply is based on a combination of surface water and groundwater, with plans to supplement this with desalination and managed aquifer recharge (MAR) in the future. For an efficient and sustainable utilisation of the different water resources, a Water Supply Management System is developed that can be used to manage water mix from multiple resources. The system builds on top of a flexible WaterManager system developed for operation of complex water supply infrastructures, which in the study is extended by implementing operational rules for optimal management.

The operational rules provide recommendations for the day-to-day management, but also consider seasonal and long-term utilisations. To achieve this, the rules will rely on real-time monitoring data combined with results from hydrological modelling, providing estimated system response to selected scenarios to which the water supply must be resilient. In the present study the combined Water Supply Management System is developed and tested using synthetic data, which will be presented in the paper.


The National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998) requires water resources management be driven at a local level, in keeping with the local nature of water systems. Polokwane Local Municipality (PLM) as the Water Services Authority, is responsible for supplying adequate domestic water to 16 Rural Water Schemes and Groundwater Schemes. The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) Masterplan highlighted that the DWS, Catchment Management Agencies and Water Boards need to develop wellfields and management plans to ensure sustainable use of aquifers. The Aquifer Management Plan (AMP) for the Polokwane Urban Complex (PUC) within the Olifants-Sand Water Supply Scheme was developed with an overall aim of achieving integrated and adaptive management of the aquifer. This is to assist in confronting climate change challenges and water security at local level. The AMP forms part of the Integrated Water Resource Management and should be seen in the context of other related guidelines and activities, such as catchment management, water conservation and demand management, waste water management, and water resource planning and management. Extensive consultation with PLM and various other stakeholders as part of the Aquifer Management Plan was meant to foster a groundwater management relationship between the Department, PLM and other stakeholders to create an enabling environment for implementation of the Aquifer Management Plan. A set of goals, targets and actions were developed for the Aquifer Management Plan These goals and targets serve as steps that allow for ‘zooming’ into the more specific actions. During consultations with the PLM, relevant Professional Service Providers, the DWS Limpopo Provincial Office and numerous other stakeholders, 75 actions within the 10 goals were identified. Ultimately, an Aquifer Management Plan had to identify actions that can improve groundwater resource management within the Polokwane Urban Complex and develop a supportive cross-institutional relationship in which to pursue them.


More often these days we hear concerns from water users regarding “how much water is the newly drilled borehole of a neighbor extracting from “their” river water”. These are serious question with serious repercussions for sustainable use and economic development. No one wants to lose what they have invested in. On the other hand, from a groundwater perspective, this is very one sided.

Numerical modelling solutions are often proposed to clients as a more accurate method of determining the groundwater surface water interaction, with the addition of volumes removed from the modelling domain, to present to decision makers the changes in volumes of discharge into streams or volumes of infiltration of stream water into the aquifer. However, this is an expensive and time-consuming exercise, and will most likely incur additional costs to accumulate sufficient meaningful data sets for input into these detailed models. A robust combination of analytical and numerical solutions is proposed, while keeping aquifer assumptions conservative, where a lack of regional data exist. This is useful in quantifying this interaction and associated volumes better without the full time and cost associated with calibrated regional flow and transport models. Analytical calculations assist in the quantification of the aquifer’s hydraulic and physical properties and is used to conceptualize flow better and determine the inputs for a conservative well field scale numerical model, in which the change in flow between groundwater and surface water system are also evaluated. The well field scale model is calibrated in a fraction of the time as a conventional flow model (less than 20%), while volumes derived is defendable and based on measurable data. This combination is viewed to be a critical step in providing time effective solutions


Because the quality of groundwater is influenced by the host rock through which it moves, it differs on a site-specific basis, and is often naturally brackish or even potentially harmful to people. In spite of this, many practitioners incorrectly use the SANS 241 Drinking Water Standard as “compliance requirement” to compare groundwater quality against. This standard only applies to water that has been purified to be suitable for potable purposes at a water treatment works in terms of regulations made under the Water Services Act 108 of 1997. The only circumstance in which it could be used to compare the quality of natural groundwaters against, is where such groundwater is (to be) used, for potable purposes (with or without treatment), and then only to provide guidance on the level of treatment required to facilitate suitability for such domestic use, and not to determine possible ‘unacceptable’ levels of contamination. Therefore, the comparison of groundwater quality results against the SANS 241 Drinking Water Standard is not only a scientifically flawed practice, it has no basis in law. It is furthermore a scientifically flawed practice to refer to groundwater quality as ‘good’, ‘bad’, or ‘poor’, as it reflects a judgemental anthropocentric perspective that has no place in modern discussions on judicious environmental management and monitoring.

 This then raises the question, what are, or should the limit values be against which groundwater quality results should be compared to determine if it has been negatively affected by anthropogenic activity to such an extent that a scientifically substantiated claim can be made that the groundwater has been ‘polluted’, an allegation with criminal liability implications?

This paper aims to answer this question in the context of South African Framework law and policy, and propose a methodology to determine appropriate site-specific limit values for groundwater quality.


A map is a symbolic or diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea, showing physical features and the relationship between these elements. It often reduces a three-dimensional world to two dimensions. Maps are generally static – fixed to paper or some other medium. Maps are produced for different reasons, leading to different types of maps, e.g., roadmaps, topo-cadastral maps and the groundwater maps – with the latter the topic of this article. There is a lot of work going into maps. This includes collecting all the data, doing evaluation and analysis of the data and selecting the data to use on the map. It is not possible to present all the information on a map and maps are often a generalisation. Different kinds of groundwater maps include availability, quality, vulnerability and protection. The selection of symbols to represent the information and the rendering of the maps are important in producing understandable, useful maps, but need explanations.

The success in representing the information on a map will determine the usefulness of a map, but it is still often misused. At the end of this long and tedious process where conflict management skills were well developed, you may find that the information on the map is outdated before the ink on the map is dried properly. The production of maps should be an iterative process, where new data can be incorporated as soon as it becomes available. It is an expensive process and cannot be repeated too often. This article will look at the processes that helped to shape the current series of hydrogeology maps of South Africa, and how to use it optimally while mindful of limitations. It will also briefly touch on recent research that aims to help with the production of improved groundwater maps for South Africa.


The frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts are increasing globally, putting severe pressure on water supply systems worldwide. The Western Cape Province suffered from a period of severe water shortages that began around January 2015 and lasted until about July 2018. During this recent drought, there was a forced reduction in water use, predominantly from the agricultural sector. Citizens also reduced water use and increasingly tapped into groundwater for their needs irrespective of whether the hydrogeology was considered favourable or not. Unmonitored and unregulated abstraction of groundwater, especially under unstable climatic conditions, poses a significant risk to the future water security of the Western Cape.
We hypothesize that groundwater enabled the municipalities, residents, and industries of the Western Cape to survive the recent drought. Our aim is to evaluate the change in groundwater storage during the 2015 to 2018 drought and its subsequent recovery. To achieve this, we must gain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of separate components of the water cycle, as well as the overall water balance.

While there is data on surface water use during the drought, the impact on groundwater resources has yet to be evaluated. However, the accurate assessment of groundwater use is difficult, especially in data-scarce regions, such as South Africa. In our study, we combine remote sensing from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the Global Land Data Assimilation Systems, groundwater level measurements from the National Groundwater Archive, and ancillary datasets from the City of Cape Town’s weekly water dashboard to assess the total change in groundwater storage in the Cape Town Metropolitan area and surrounding cities over an 8-year period, from 2012 to 2020. Preliminary results from GRACE data analysis show a steady decline in aquifer saturated thickness over the drought, indicative of an increase in groundwater use.


The main purpose of this paper is to present a case study where soil moisture and rainfall data were evaluated for engineered tree plantations, to understand the potential impact on vertical groundwater recharge. Soil moisture for probes within the tree plantation root zones and reference sites within the same soil types were evaluated, in context to site rainfall patterns. Water transfer from shallow to deeper soil zones for a dataset of 2 years are presented. Observations in terms of water movement in the root zone are made. A water balance is presented in the effort to conceptualise the impact on water transfer through the upper vadose zone and to quantify the significance in terms of potential vertical groundwater recharge reduction.


Israel, S

Thousands of pharmaceuticals, pesticides and microplastics are consumed and disposed of directly or indirectly into various waterbodies globally. They are collectively termed “contaminants of emerging concern” or CECs. Contaminants of emerging concerns are defined as micropollutants that are present in the environment that are not regulated and that can pose a risk to the health of both humans and wildlife. The spread of these CEC’s in water systems is not isolated to a specific place and is on the rise all over the world. This study aims to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution pattern of pharmaceuticals in Cape Town’s water network, in order to assess the occurrence, concentration levels and distribution of pharmaceuticals in various water bodies. The study focuses on the occurrence of eight pharmaceuticals which are most frequently used and occurs in various water bodies around the world, namely acetaminophen, diclofenac, carbamazepine, naproxen, rifampicin, tenofovir, progesterone, sulfamethoxazole. The research sites include six waste water treatment plants in Cape Town with receiving rivers and borehole sites nearby and downstream from the waste water treatment works. Liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry is the selected method used to analyse the analytes of interest in the collected samples. Preliminary results obtained during the summer period (January 2021) showed that pharmaceuticals had indeed spread from waste water treatment plants into receiving water bodies with concentrations ranging from 0.8 to ≤ 6400 ng/L in both surface and groundwater due to the inefficient removal of these compounds. Continued research will conclusively address the concentration levels as a function of time, and consider the spatial distribution and its seasonality. It can be concluded from the preliminary results, that pathways of contamination from waste water discharge points to surface water and groundwater do indeed exist for the 8 pharmaceuticals considered.


Surface water resources are under threat of depletion and quality deterioration due to various factors such as climate change, urbanization, and population expansion. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) is a technique that has been successfully implemented over the last 4 decades to sustain the balance between water demand and availability. The unsaturated zone, where source water is introduced during infiltration, plays a major role in the reduction of contaminants present in water before it naturally percolates and reaches the aquifer. This research aims to evaluate the removal efficiency of contaminants by the unsaturated zone. Three objectives to be accomplished are; to determine and classify the chemical composition of the source water. Secondly, to determine the hydraulic properties of the soil in the area of interest. Lastly to evaluate the contaminants removal efficiency, by tracing the quality of water at the point of recharge and discharge. The Atlantis water resource management scheme in the Western Cape will be used as a case study, in order to assess the relationship between the unsaturated zone and the reduction of contaminants.

The current study argues that during the artificial recharge of aquifers, contaminants present in the source water filter through the unsaturated zone, where natural processes, as well as resident microbes, reduce their concentrations to acceptable levels. Assessing the ability of the unsaturated zone to reduce contaminants, will allow for the early warnings of contamination potential and the execution of informed prevention strategies that can be used in decision making of the management and protection of water resources. Additionally, the advanced understanding of the role that the unsaturated zone plays in eliminating contaminants can be used to account for satisfactory groundwater quality in areas where groundwater is not constantly monitored and artificial remedies are not applied.


Test-pumping drawdown curves are not always sufficiently indicative of aquifer characteristics and geometry. In fact, drawdown curves should never be analysed and interpreted alone. The derivative analysis (Bourdet et al., 1983) and flow dimension theory (Barker, 1988) make it possible to infer the regional geometries and flow characteristics of fractured aquifers which are otherwise often unknown or inconclusive when interpreting point-source borehole logs. The propagation of the drawdown and/or pressure front through the aquifer reaches distal hydrogeological objects which influence the flow regime and imprints signatures in the drawdown derivative curves. The conjunctive interpretation of these flow regime sequences and geological data results in a robust, well-informed conceptual model which is vital for resource management.

A methodology similar to that of A. Ferroud, S. Rafini and R. Chesnaux (2018) was applied to the test-pumping data of 14 confined and unconfined Nardouw Aquifer boreholes in the Steenbras area, Cape Town, which has been under exploratory investigation since the early 2000’s. The Steenbras wellfield was developed following the major 2017-2018 Western Cape drought. The NE-SW trending open folds and dextral strike-slip Steenbras-Brandvlei Megafault Zone (with crosscutting faults and dykes) make the aquifer hydrogeologically complex. It is due to these complexities that the sequential flow regime analysis was undertaken to enhance the current conceptual understanding.

The analyses reveal domains of flow models which include open vertical fracture, T-shaped channel, double(triple) porosity model, and leaky/recharge boundary amongst others. Poor data quality and noise issues are also highlighted. The outcomes of the sequential flow regime analysis allow for identification of applicable flow models for type curve fitting to avoid erroneous aquifer parameter estimations; improvement of the hydrogeological understanding of the aquifer; enhancements of the current conceptual model in order to inform on subsequent numerical modelling, groundwater resource management and ecological protection.


Imrie, S.

Groundwater in South Africa has great potential to supplement our country’s water demands. Currently, studies show that less than 10% by volume of the Average Groundwater Exploitation Potential is abstracted on an annual basis. The 2017 drought has aided in creating awareness of the importance of this resource towards building water resilience. If managed correctly, groundwater is commonly viewed as a sustainable source. Oftentimes, the ‘sustainability’ of a groundwater resource is an ‘open-ended’ definition based on the hydrogeologist’s interpretation of aquifer pumping test data alone. This approach often discounts the cumulative impact of environmental factors (including drought and climate change) and other users on groundwater. The use of numerical groundwater models to support and inform the conceptual models provides the mechanism to bridge this gap.

This paper discusses various approaches and examples of where numerical modelling plays a key role in supporting groundwater usage in a sustainable and informed manner. In particular, this includes:

•Inclusion of impact from other anthropogenic activities and groundwater users, with model scenarios that show the potential impact of each on the other, as well as the combined result to groundwater (levels and water quality)

•Consideration of extreme climatic events (e.g. 1 in 100-year drought and/or flood), including the use of uncertainty analysis and consideration of dynamic groundwater management, such as the possible varying of sustainable pumping rates to suit the prevailing conditions

•Identification of groundwater receptors and appropriate assessment of potential impacts to those receptors from groundwater usage, including “target-audience” thinking in the post-processing and reporting of numerical model results, so as to convey clear messages to the interested and effected parties and stakeholders

•Use of multiple methods and technologies to calculate and model surface water / groundwater interaction and recharge, including uncertainty analysis, and intelligent challenging of traditional methods of estimating groundwater recharge


Vermaak, N; Fourie, F; Awodwa, A; Metcalf, D; Pedersen, PG; Linneberg, MS; Madsen, T

The Strategic Water Sector Cooperation (SSC) between Denmark and South Africa is a long-term bilateral cooperation, which amongst others are contributing to the South African water sector by demonstrating and testing different Danish groundwater mapping methodologies in South Africa in order to add long term value to the South African work on optimizing the utilization of groundwater and to increase the resilience against drought. One key aspect is to develop a South African groundwater mapping methodology, based on the detailed Danish methodology and South African specialized knowledge of the South African hydrogeology. In this case, the SSC has contributed to the work done by Umgeni Water in The District Municipality of uThukela in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa. The methodology that has been used is integrated modelling using 3-geological models built in GeoScene3D and groundwater modelling, which was based on existing data from Umgeni Water and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Based on the outcome of the 3-D geological voxel model both known aquifers where the boundary has been adjusted, as well as new aquifers has been outlined. Good places for drilling production boreholes have been identified, followed by groundwater modelling of sustainable abstraction rates from existing and new potential well fields. Finally, recommendations were made for new data collection and how to modify the Danish mapping approach for use in South Africa, taking the differences in geology and water management into consideration. The Danish methodology for groundwater mapping is adaptable to South African conditions but it requires Danish and South African experts works closely together. The project has also shown that integrated 3-D geological modeling and hydrological modelling can contribute to a sustainable development of groundwater in South Africa, as well as the Danish methodology for modelling and monitoring sustainable abstraction rates.4


The argument in this paper is that improved understanding of science-policy integration, where physical bases of natural science is combined with practice in managing water resource challenges, becomes critical in translating scientific knowledge into effective and sustainability solutions linked to groundwater resource protection. Such hypothesis should be attested at locally relevant scale where water resources reside and where water utilization takes place. This paper provides a practical case-study of how science-policy integration can directly impacts groundwater resource protection practice from a local, and national perspective using strategies of groundwater resources directed measures.

A combination of literature surveys, and desktop record review methods were used for the purpose of data collection from published literature and publicly accessible national databases of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Collected data were analysed using document analysis, descriptive statistics, and case study analysis methods. Based on the analysis, three types of science-policy nexus theoretical models exist in practice, namely, 1) science-policy integration, 2) policy-science integration, and 3) mixed integration. From a national perspective, the analysis showed that South Africa is able to practically apply science-policy nexus in policy implementation practice for water resources protection, and that such practice depicts a mixed integration model of the nexus. Case study analysis of the Schoonspruit-Koekemoerspruit River Catchment provided insight on how localized operationalization of groundwater resource directed measures facilitates sustained groundwater resources protection for water availability and sustainable utilization. This study provides an exemplary for collaborations between researchers and/or scientists and policy makers to ensure that science research is answering policy-relevant questions and that results from scientific work are readily available for policy implementation. In addition, there is adequate evidence to indicate that science-policy nexus can be designed and prioritized to support sustainable development agenda on groundwater resilience, and visibility at various levels.


This paper describes the calibration and testing processes of three methods of measuring hydraulic conductivity (slug test, mini disk infiltrometer and particle size distribution (sieves)) across varying scales (field and lab). The methods used in the field are the slug test and sieves which were used in four different wells of the Rietvlei wetland in Cape town and the mini disk infiltrometer was used in a grid developed in one of the Nelson Mandela University Reserve salt pans. The mini disk infiltrometer and the slug test are used to determine the saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) of altered or unaltered soil samples under controlled conditions in a laboratory, and that is a key parameter to understand the movement of water through a porous medium. The mini disk infiltrometer requires a small volume of water and has a compact size which makes it convenient for laboratory soil specimens, especially when studying vertical infiltration. Infiltration shows a dependence on the compaction and saturation of soil while hydraulic conductivity increases with depth in a simulated aquifer.


Pope Gregory defined the seven deadly sins in order to guide the Catholic Church in the 6th century. The past 20 odd years in the industry has shown that there are several mistakes that are repeatedly made by numerical modelers. Although we all acknowledge that any numerical model is a non-unique solution, and that there exists and infinite number of solutions, there are several sins that will prevent the model from giving an accurate representation. This paper will provide the most common mistakes made in a format that is accessible to numerical modelers as well as other practitioners. Issues covered will include boundary conditions, model complexity and recharge.