Conference Abstracts

All Abstracts were presented at the Groundwater Conferences

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Abstract

This paper was presented at the GWD Central Branch Symposium, Potchefstroom in 2012

Numerical modelling of hydrogeological systems has progressed significantly with the evolution of technology and the development of a greater understanding of hydrogeology and the underlying mathematical principles. Hydrogeological modelling software can now include complex geological layers and models as well as allow the pinching out of geological features and layers. The effects of a complex geology on the hydraulic parameters determined by numerical modelling is investigated by means of the DHI-WASY FEFLOW and Aranz Geo Leapfrog modelling software packages.

The Campus Test Site (CTS) at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa was selected as the locale to be modelled. Being one of the most studied aquifers in the world, the CTS has had multiple research projects performed on it and as a result ample information is available to construct a hydrogeological model with a high complexity. The CTS consists primarily of stacked fluvial channel deposits of the Lower Beaufort Group, with the main waterstrike located on a bedding-plane fracture in the main sandstone aquifer.

The investigation was performed by creating three distinct hydrogeological models of the CTS, the first consists entirely of simplified geological strata modelled in FEFLOW by means of average layer thicknessand does not include the pinching out of any geological layers. The second model was created to be acopy of the first, however the bedding-plane fracture can pinch out where it is known to not occur. The third and final model consisted of a complex geological model created in Leapfrog Geo which was subsequently exported to FEFLOW for hydrogeological modelling.

Abstract

The deterioration of wetlands due to human activity has been a problem for many years. Under the old Water Act 36 of 1956 no provision of water was made for managing the environment. This idea was only introduced in the 1970s and focussed mainly on maintaining the floodplains and estuaries in the Kruger National Park, with small amounts being allocated to drinking water for wildlife. This was followed by the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 43 of 1983, the first legislation under which wetlands could be protected, and which today still provides an important legal platform for the protection of wetlands, through integrated conservation of the soil, water resource and vegetation. South Africa became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention in 1975, but until the late 1990s not much was done to enforce wetland conservation. With the introduction of the National Water Act, 36 of 1998, and the National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1998, South African legislatiobecame  the  first  to  balance  human,  environmental  aneconomic  interests,  for  the purpose of sustainable development. As part of this review I refer to case studies in Gauteng and discuss some of the challenges we still face.

Abstract

In recent years there is an increased awareness of hydrocarbon contamination in South Africa, and the need for remediating sites affected by these contaminants. Hydrocarbon contamination of groundwater can be caused by a large variety of activities at industrial, mining or residential areas. Once these contaminants are discovered in groundwater where it poses risks to human health and/or the environment, remediation is often required. Remediation of groundwater has become a booming industry for groundwater practitioners and often there is an attitude of more sophisticated and expensive solutions are better. This paper will show that this attitude is not always the best solution, but rather recommend an approach where a combination of low cost/low maintenance system need to be investigated and applied to reach clean-up goals. Determination of natural attenuation potential and on-going monitoring forms an integral part of this type of solution.

Abstract

Evidence suggests that physical availability of groundwater may be only one of many factors in determining whether groundwater-based rural water supply schemes in South Africa are reliable or "sustainable". Other factors include budgetary constraints, community preferences, policy decisions, operation and maintenance procedures, and the availability of skilled staff. These factors and others combine to create "complex problems" around the issue of rural water supplies that require a multidisciplinary approach if they are to be effectively resolved. This work is an on-going part of Water Research Commission Project K5/2158, “Favourable Zone Identification for Groundwater Development: Options Analysis for Local Municipalities”, due to be completed in March 2014.

Abstract

This study explores some of the principle issues associated with quantifying surface  water and groundwater interactions and the practical application of models in a data scarce region such as South Africa. The linkages between the various interdependent components of the water cycle are not well understood, especially in those regions that suffer problems of data scarcity, and there remain  urgent  requirements  for  regional  water  resource  assessments.  Hydrology  (both  surface water and groundwater hydrology) is a difficult science; it aims to represent highly variable and non- stationary processes which occur in catchment systems, many of which are unable to be measured at the scales of interest. The conceptual representations of these processes are translated into mathematical form in a model. Different process interpretations, together with different mathematical representations, result in the development of diverse model structures. These structural uncertainties are difficult to resolve due to the lack of relevant data. Further uncertainty is introduced  when  parameterising  a  model,  as  the  more  complex  the  model,  the  greater  the possibility that many different parameter sets within the model structure might give equally acceptable results when compared with observations. Incomplete and often flawed input data are then used to drive the models and generate quantitative information. Approximate implementations (model structures and parameter sets), driven by approximate input data, will necessarily produce approximate results. Most model developers aim to represent reality as far as possible, and as our understanding of hydrological processes has improved, models have tended to become more complex. Beven (2002) highlighted the need for a better philosophy toward modelling than just a more explicit representation of reality and argues that the true level of uncertainty in model predictions  is  not  widely  appreciated.  Model  testing  has  limited  power  as  it  is  difficult  to differentiate  between  the  uncertainties  within  different  model  structures,  different  sets  of alternative parameter values and in the input data used to run a model. A number of South African case studies are used to examine the types of data typically available and explore the extent to which a model is able to be validated considering the difficulty in differentiating between the various sources of uncertainty. While it is difficult to separate input data, parameter and structural uncertainty, the study found that it should be possible to at least partly identify the uncertainty by a careful examination of the evidence for specific processes compared with the conceptual structure of a specific model. While the lack of appropriate data means there will always be considerable uncertainty surrounding model validation, it can be argued that improved process understanding in an environment can be used to validate model outcomes to a degree, by assessing whether a model is getting the right results for the right reasons.

Abstract

This study examined the effective use of the hydrogeologic conceptual model (HCM) to implement the integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach. While research focuses on using hydrogeologic models  in  groundwater  for  planning,  few  studies  show  how  to  use  HCM  for  a successful IWRM approach, especially in  resource  poor  catchments.  This  is  largely  due  to  t he lack of adequate data to showcase such models. Despite the lack of numerical groundwater data, the HCM was used in this study and it provided the scientific and visual presentation of key issues for practical understanding by stakeholders. For the first time, HCM provided a  practical understanding of t he  groundwater system in the Limphasa River catchment. By using HCM and physical factors qualitatively, the study revealed that, apart from storage, abstraction mechanisms significantly contributes to regional initiatives of groundwater supply whose central objective is to utilise and manage such water sustainably. The model is based on the relationship between groundwater availability  and  its  related  hydrogeologic factors.  Findings suggest improvement  in quantifying the studied parameters through field experiments to provide a better estimation on storage and abstraction of groundwater in relation to impacts of a future changing climate. Since using HCM has shown practical usage, replicating it in catchments with similar physical and socioeconomic environments, would be desirable as refining the model progresses.

Abstract

Groundwater in South Africa is an essential source of potable water for rural communities, farms and towns. Semi-arid conditions of South Africa, a growing population and surface water resources almost entirely being exploited to their limits, increase  the demand for groundwater resources. Therefore,  the  relation  between  the  geology  and  geohydrology  of  South  Africa  becomes  an important tool in locating groundwater resources that can provide sustainable quantities of water for South Africans. A document was therefore compiled, providing valuable geohydrological information  on  the  geological  formations  of  the  whole  of  South  Africa.  The  information  was gathered by means of interviews with experienced South African geohydrologists and reviewing of reports and articles of geohydrological studies. The geohydrological characteristics discussed include rock/aquifer parameters and behaviour, aquifer types (primary of secondary), groundwater quality, borehole yields and expected striking depths, and geological target features and the geophysical method  used  to  locate  these  targets.  Due  to  the  fact  that  90%  of  South  Africa’s  aquifers  are classified as secondary aquifer systems, groundwater occurrence within the rocks of South Africa is mainly controlled by secondary fractured systems; therefore, understanding the geology and geological processes (faulting, folding, intrusive dyke/sills and weathering) responsible for their development and how they relate, is important. However, the primary aquifers of South Africa (Coastal Cenozoic Deposits) should not be neglected as these aquifers can produce significant amounts of groundwater. Drilling success rates and possibility of striking higher yielding boreholes can be improved dramatically when an evaluation of the structural geology and geohydrological conditions of an area together with a suitable geophysical method is applied. The ability to locate groundwater has been originally considered (even today) a heavenly gift and can be dated back to the Biblical story of Moses striking the rock to get water: “behold, I will stand there before thee there upon the rocks thou shalt smite the rock and there shall come water out of it” (Exodus 17:6).

Abstract

National legislation is the outcome of processes, locally, provincial and nationally. Certain aspects of water management have first been the product of legal initiatives of the South African government, seeking  to  address  local  problems.  As  a  result,  the  National  Water  Act,  3of  1998,  was promulgated. The Act is in line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 108 of 1996, which embrace human rights. The Water Services Act, 108 of 1997, regulates the accessibility of water and sanitation by domestic users. Groundwater, in many parts of South Africa, provides the sole  and/or  partial  water  supply  for  meeting  basic  human  needs.  With  an  increase  in  the dependency on groundwater usage, the need to properly and effectively protect, use, develop, conservemanage  and  control  groundwater  resources  has  become  a  national  priority  by  the custodian of all water resources: the National Department of Water Affairs. The question arises whether  onot  the  current  groundwater  allocatiodecision-making tools  are  enough  to  make informed  decisions  regarding  the  final  approval,  or  not,  of  groundwater  use  licenses,  and whether  a  proper  framework  that  includes  guidelines  together  with  licensing  conditions  are available  for  decision- making   in   complex  groundwater   scenario   situations   as   part   of   the groundwater license decision process. The current research contributes to answering this question and finding solutions in order to improve and make the groundwater use authorisation process more  effective.  The  groundwater  situation  will  bdiscussed  on  a  comparative  basis  from international case studies regarding water legislation and groundwater resource management tools. A full evaluation and analysis of groundwater use authorisation process and decision-making tools oregional annational level  in  South  Africa will be done  and a Framework and tool for the evaluation, decision-making and determination of authorisation conditions of groundwater use authorisations, which includes existing lawful water use, general authorisations, and groundwater use licensing, will be developed. Scenarios and case studies are currently implemented.

Abstract

Currently limited progress is made in South Africa (and Africa) on the protection of groundwater quality. To achieve the objective of water for growth and development and to provide socio- economic and environmental benefits of communities using groundwater, significant aquifers and well-fields must be adequately protected. Groundwater protection zoning is seen as an important step in this regard. Till today, only one case study of groundwater protection zoning exists in Africa. Protection zone delineation can be done using published reports and database data. However, due to the complexity of the fractured rock at the research site, more data are required. This data can be collected by conducting a hydro census and through aquifer tests. An inventory of the activities that can potentially impact water quality was done and aquifer characteristics such as transmissivity and hydraulic conductivity were determined through various types of aquifer testing. Fracture positions were identified using fluid-logging and fracture flow rates were also measured using fluid-logging data. A conceptual model and basic 3D numerical model were created to try to understand groundwater movement at the research site. The improved information will be used to build a more detailed numerical model and implement a trustworthy groundwater protection plan, using protection zoning. The expected results will have applicability to groundwater management in general. The protection plan developed during this project can be used as case study to update and improve policy implementation.

Abstract

This paper outlines the core factors related to the economic assessment of groundwater resources. Included in the discussion is a delineation of the factors that determine the economic value of groundwater as well as a thorough description of the range of ecosystem services that are derived from groundwater resources.

Several factors affect the economic value of aquifers, but these factors can split into two categories, natural asset values and ecosystem services values.

Ecosystem services are the benefits that humans receive from ecosystems, and are officially defined by the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment. Ecosystems produce these ecosystem services on an annual basis, and the value of these services accrue on a country’s national income statement, and should ideally be measured through indicators that relate to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Aquifer themselves are natural assets. They form part of the ecological infrastructure of a country and the values of these assets theoretically appear on a country’s natural resources balance sheet. The asset value can be determined by calculating the Net Present Value (NPV) of the perpetual stream of aquifer ecosystem services delivered.

By understanding the full range of factors that underlie the natural asset values of aquifers, along with their ecosystem service values and the full range of inter-temporal and inter-ecosystem service characteristics, we can begin to adequately assess the economic value of groundwater resources.