Guest Editorial by Matthys Dippenaar Associate Professor: Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology Department of Geology, University of Pretoria
As geologists we face this constantly when we share the fascinating stories of the origin of the Universe, the history of the Earth, and the development of Life. We sometimes face different, more real-life and close-to-home matters, where conflict is not necessarily due to differences in narrative, science education or belief. Here, science becomes a surrogate for issues pertaining to moral, ethical, societal and monetary injustice: energy, land use, mineral resources and groundwater—all fundamentally geological resources.
What makes water supply different to minerals and energy, however, is that water is a basic human right. This implies that water is supplied at extremely watered-down tariffs to make it accessible and affordable to all. While this is both commendable and absolutely necessary, it does result in reduced respect and appreciation for the resource.
People tend to be more wasteful of something because it is free or cheap, making water management and governance a very difficult task indeed.
Most of us grew up with a friendly schematic version of the water cycle. A smiling water droplet accompanied you on a spectacular journey from a cloud to rain, and from a river to the ocean. With arms outstretched it yearned to be pulled up to the skies again to complete the circle of its existence.
Occasionally—rarely, but occasionally—we would see this droplet acknowledge the other 99% of the planet’s fresh water. You would be so lucky to be accompanied to the ice caps and glaciers where water is in solid phase, or underground where water stays in openings in soil an rock as groundwater. Though two thirds of our freshwater occurs as ice and one third as groundwater, humanity is still biased towards that 1% occurring in rivers and dams. Almost all fresh terrestrial water is practically excluded from the narrative.
When we look at the story that is told, it is one of reservoirs to store surface water. When that runs out, we talk of augmentation by desalination of ocean water. Whatever happened to the water that we walk on, that shows some delayed response to climatic extremes, and that has some lower vulnerability to contamination and evaporation losses when compared to most surface water alternatives?
This is why no one blinks an eye when boreholes are drilled at random and at one’s own prerogative. As long as the dam levels are monitored, the use of your groundwater is deemed your privilege—no, your right!—despite it being fundamentally wrong and in direct contradiction with our National Water Act (NWA; Act 36 of 1998).1 The Act states very clearly that water is a natural resource that belongs to everyone and that—despite its uneven distribution—its use should be equal. This is echoed by our Constitution (Act 108 of 1996), which states implicitly that everyone has the right to sufficient water, and an environment protected from pollution and ecological degradation, and subject to sustainable development.
Abuse of cheap water affects the story of groundwater. When the sound siting and installation of water infrastructure outweigh the ‘free water’ you are looking for, then why in the world would you spend more on doing it legally, sustainably and ethically? Why would you opt for geophysics and models and testing when someone knows someone who has a gift and can do it for less? This makes it very hard for well-trained groundwater scientists to compete with fairy tales of dowsing (or divining or witching; whatever hocus pocus term works). Science has been given a bad name.
It is a story so often told; one of the abilities of some individuals to site groundwater by some obscure means. But finding water is not the hard part. Practically all ground is wet at some depth. This is the premise of gravity, whereby water (or anything, for that matter) will go down as long as there are openings for it to go down into. No scientist has ever contested that. Finding water is not the skill.
Finding clean water, at acceptable yields, that will not adversely affect the environment or other users, both in space and time, and that will not falter in its yield—this is the skill. Doing this all subject to the SANS 0299 series (Code of Practice: Development, Maintenance and Management of Ground Water Resources), and subject to water use licensing requirements (NWA 36:1998)—this is the skill. This is where the science trumps the quackery, and where we need to be more forceful in protecting the water cycle from those without any respect of it (read, those who shamelessly mine or over abstract water, or those who knowingly pollute it).
This is where groundwater science comes in.
Hydrogeology or geohydrology (used synonymously for most purposes), the scientific study of groundwater, is a fairly well-established science with its roots very close to early-days civil engineering, geophysics, and of course, geology. It has developed to a science no longer concerned solely with water supply from boreholes (or wells), but to one understanding the complexity of the hydraulics of aquifers and its place within the greater water cycle.
No, we don’t just pump boreholes. And no, groundwater doesn’t come from underground rivers and lakes. It is more complex than that. I’d encourage everyone to start with the book by Nel 2 and then to work through the amazing free online platform of groundwater science information at the Groundwater Project (https://gw-project.org).
We need to study the mechanics of the aquifer to understand the regional ramifications of lower watelevels in boreholes. We need to understand the substantial significance of allowing water quality to deteriorate at one point in the water cycle.
Numerous cities and towns throughout South Africa are dependent either fully or partially on groundwater in the water supply mix. 3,4,5 Urban groundwater also brings with it so much more than just matters of supply, also requiring input into water-related disasters, flooding, flooding of underground infrastructure, sustainable drainage solutions, and so much more.6,7
Cities are very often founded on or near water to serve as transport corridors, or for nutritional (drinking) purposes. Cities are near coastlines or rivers. Yet Gauteng is on top of a significant water divide in South Africa, diverting surface water to the Indian Ocean by means of the Crocodile, Olifants and Limpopo rivers, as well as to the Atlantic Ocean by means of the Vaal and Orange rivers. The founding of Pretoria, which predates the discovery of gold and the founding of Johannesburg, is deeply rooted in the high yielding springs from the Malmani Subgroup in the present-day Fountains Valley Resort. As you enter the capital city from the Fountains Valley Interchange, you are greeted with fountains, reminding us of the two high-yielding springs around the corner. To this day, these two springs (Upper Fountain and Lower Fountain) supply in the order of a combined 30–40 million litres per day to Tshwane. The discharge from the springs has remained constant for the 160 years since its first use, and they now supply 5–10% of the City of Tshwane’s water, together with some other springs and boreholes.
Unlike the karst springs in Pretoria, Cape Town itself has a number of springs associated with the Table Mountain Group that have contributed to the water supply of the city throughout its history. Even though the hydraulics of these springs is different from the karst springs in Pretoria, they also provide consistent discharges of remarkably good water quality.
One should never waste your word count with things everyone knows. Yet this needs to be said: South Africa is water scarce. South Africa’s water is erratically distributed. South Africa is predominantly semi-arid to arid.
None of this matters. We have to make do with what the complex geological and geomorphological development of our country has left us, and how this is further compounded by the climate and the changing climate. We have to make do with the difficult job we have as hydrogeologists, and how this is further compounded by ignorance and miscommunication. We need scientists who can communicate science through stories that will captivate audiences and convert those who fall prey to dishonesty and misrepresentation.
Maybe the water cycle also deserves some herd immunity; an additional layer of care and resilience where it is possible, to attempt to mitigate possible adverse effects elsewhere where it is more vulnerable...
Hydrogeology is a fascinating science that South Africa is remarkably competent in internationally. Our hydrogeologists are well respected abroad, and we contribute to academic research, collaborative research, and the international professional bodies. As a country, we are hosting the 50th Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists in Cape Town as a joint partnership between its South African National Chapter and the Ground Water Division of the Geological Society of South Africa, in 2021. This is the third on the continent and the second in the country. What a wonderful opportunity to showcase our country’s competence in the science of groundwater!
Hydrogeology is becoming increasingly important. The amount of work done by hydrogeologists in augmenting water supply during the recent droughts is astonishing. These teams spent months to years with geophysical investigations, field visits, modelling, hydraulic testing, and sampling to come up with water supply solutions that are sustainable in the long-term. As hydrogeologists, one needs to test and monitor to continuously verify and improve models. While these are very easily and very often neglected, the consequence of untested and unmonitored schemes is inevitably failure at the expense of the environment and the people. Water supply is as much a matter of drilling a borehole as driving is a matter of having a key, and doing it wrong is an enormous risk.
We no longer study and teach borehole drilling. The hydrogeologist of the twenty-first century has to manage the resource to ensure long-term sustainability and equitable access to the benefit of the people and the environment.
1. NWA. National Water Act 36 of 1998. Government Printer.
2. Nel M. (2017). Groundwater: The Myths, the Truths and the Basics. SP 108/17. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
3. Dippenaar M.A. (2013). Pretoria’s Fountains - Arteries of Life. SP 44/13. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
4. Dippenaar M.A. (2015). Johannesburg: Gold in the Rand, Water from the Land. SP 91/15. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
5. Dippenaar M.A. (2016). Cape Town: where sweet Waters meet the Sea. SP 95/16. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
6. Armitage N., Vice M., Fisher-Jeffes L., Winter K., Spiegel A., Dunstan J. (2013). The South African Guidelines for Sustainable Drainage Systems. TT 558/13. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
7. Seyler H., Witthüser K., Sunaitis M. (2019). Urban Groundwater Development and Management. 2741/1/19. Water Research Commission. Pretoria. Available online at www.wrc.org.za.
Following the Talk by Helen Seyler, hosted by the Western Cape Branch on 28 January 2021, Zaheed further extrapolated on the research into the applicability of machine learning for the forward prediction of groundwater levels and flow regime using results from the dolomite aquifers in South Africa, particularly the Romotswa/North West and Gauteng Dolomites.
This research supports a larger programme researching the use of big data analytics for water secure transboundary systems.
About the Speaker:
Zaheed is a Specialist groundwater consultant with expertise in groundwater exploration services, earth sciences related services, borehole drilling services and water quality analysis related services, amongst others. His current employment is with L2K2 Consultants, in Cape Town.
He is also pursuing a PhD degree with The Institute for Water Studies at the University of the Western Cape, focusing Big Data analytics and its application in groundwater sciences.
Zaheed Acknowledge the following partners & sponsors as part of a multi-party programme called the: Big Data and Transboundary Water Collaboration
Want to learn more about Dolomitic Areas in South Africa?
1) Visit the DWS Groundwater website: DWS Dolomite Units/ Compartments Maps & Guidelines
2) Council for Geoscience: https://www.geoscience.org.za/images/geohazard/Sinkholes.pdf
3) Engineering, hydrogeological and vadose zone hydrological aspects of Proterozoic dolomites (South Africa) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2018.07.024
This Talk is available via the GWD YouTube Channel. (Please contact Zaheed via firstname.lastname@example.org for further discussions relating to this presentation):
FORMAL PUBLICATION: Gaffoor Z, Pietersen K, Jovanovic N, et al (2020) Big Data Analytics and Its Role to Support Groundwater Management in the Southern African Development Community. Water 12:28. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102796 (The paper is open source. It should be a good entry point for the subject and provide additional references)
From Melissa Lintnaar-Strauss: Zaheed will this work assist us to better evaluate mining applications e.g. for mine closures or better manage acid mine drainage?
From Michael Maluleke DWS: Other than the two sites mentioned in the presentation dolomite and alluvial aquifer, was the model tested successfully in other non dolomite areas with enough data to run the model. Generally, how was the performance of the model?
From Dr Thokozane Kanyerere: In data scarce aquifer systems, do you discourage or caution the use machine learning models?
From Adolf.October: How important is cloud computing in machine learning?Why are we using the cloud?
The GWD Central Branch Dr Amy Allwright, together with the GWD National Chair Mr Fanus Fourie, hosted this Groundwater Awareness Talk that was presented by Nicolette Vermaak of the Institute for Groundwater Studies at UFS. Nicolette offered an overview of what groundwater awareness entails and shared some of her experiences.
This Talk aimed to create a platform for those who are already - or want to become - involved with groundwater awareness initiatives to get together with like-minded people, looking at existing drives and future needs and possibilities.
ABOUT THE TOPIC: Awareness can be defined as knowledge or perception of a situation or fact, concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development and the quality or state of being aware. It is also the knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. Our awareness is often linked to things we have learned and experienced in life, so it differs from one person to the next. We can improve our awareness of the world around us through conversations with others, by reading, by listening to talk and watching programmes.
This talk addressed a number of important questions, such as:
Why is it important to be aware of groundwater? What is the information groundwater scientists would like to share with the general public and other scientists? What can be done to inform others about groundwater and the issues connected to it?
This Talk is available via the GWD YouTube Channel:
Government & Local Government
From Raven Kisten : Great traction on this thus far! Just a comment…Extremely worried that some Municipalities and Organs of State are lacking education on this subject which leads to poor development of groundwater projects and thereby creating greater disbelief in the ability of this resource to serve as sole sources or to supplement existing resources. Perhaps this GW Awareness movement needs to incorporate govt entities.
Comment by Jeanne Gouws: Only the municipalities that could afford to appoint consultants got by with regards to groundwater during the drought. Much work is needed in a wider area.
Comment by Palesa: Perhaps you can also consult the Norad toolkit for more content
Education e.g Schools & Expo's
From Marlese/ Jaco Nel & Angelo Johnson: Are there any type of material that will work good with children? Nicolette, how did the colouring in material work?
From Izelda: Workshop with School kids. Hi Nicolette I am a Geohydrologist and I started doing workshops with Kids. I did a workshop on water cycle with kids at a Clayville school and it was awesome. We mostly do activities after watching a clip on a certain groundwater topic. I showed the kids a clip on water cycle and then we did an activity they 'build' the water cycle on the paper plates. We had the colouring competition with help of Elanda and price giving. I am planning more groundwater workshops on primary and high school levels going forward, making kids aware of this natural resource. <Sorry guys my mike is not working well> Kids mostly remember things when you do activities with them. We had a prize giving which they enjoyed and they kept asking when the next workshop is.
From Marlese/ Jaco Nel & Angelo Johnson: The Water Research Commission has quite a lot of awareness stuff, maybe link up with Lani to check if some material are more requested/popular than other?
From Marlese/ Jaco Nel & Angelo Johnson: What about something like the ESKOM Science Expo but then specifically focus on water projects?
From Adolf October: What tools of awareness are you looking at, books, pamphlet, worskshop with schools?
A: All of the above
For anybody interested in the Translation initiative (translating the Wally_and_Deannas_Groundwater_Adventure booklet) : please contact email@example.com and send us your language if choice.
Thank you to the following volunteers!
1. Fanus Fourie - Afrikaans
2. Boitumelo and Audelia - Sesotho and Sepedi
3. Awodwa Magingi - Xhosa
Public/ User & Citizen awareness
From Jeanne Gouws: Just a comment. The groundwater dependent ecosystems also need to be communicated during awareness building.
The awareness information could definitely be worked into the "community conservation" side of CapeNature here in the Western Cape. As well as for our communications on various social platforms used by CapeNature.
From Jane Trembath: Would enjoy knowing more about Citizen Science and groundwater.
Lake Sibaya is SA's largest freshwater lake, but experts warn it could dry up within the next 10 years. #CarteBlance
WATCH THIS CARTE BLANCHE INSET of Feb 10, 2021
Mr Mark Schapers, a Technical Director and Geohydrologist at JG Afrika Engineering and Environmental Consulting, (JG Africa and GWD and GAKZN Branch Representative), has been calling for urgent attention to this matter since 2015:
Since 2000 (refer to Annexures 1 to 3), there has been a marked and disturbing fall in groundwater levels in the Maputaland Coastal Plain Aquifers, which has more recently manifested in the alarming drop in the Lake Sibhayi levels by an astonishing 8m (half the total volume of the Lake). The drop has resulted in the southern portion of the Lake splitting off and dropping a further 7.5m below the main lake level.
The causes and effects remain a hotly debated topic; some of the primary drivers include:
• Decreased rainfall and drought conditions (climate change),
• Increased groundwater abstraction,
• Absence of mega rainfall events (cyclonic rainfall from the Mozambique channel) and associated recharge,
• Geological controls,
• Eucalyptus forestry and the increase thereof.
Whilst it is understood that every area is unique, and that modelling of conditions can vary substantially, these variations are typically in lower percentiles (i.e. standard deviations of 1 to 10%). However, some simple calculations do help realize the orders of magnitude of each of these potential drivers, and the potential effect they are having on the groundwater system.
The National Groundwater Association, USA is speaking up during their National Groundwater Awareness Week 2021, 7-13 March 2021.
They realise that their "most valuable and precious resource needs advocates who understand the importance groundwater plays in our lives and community. Any resource taken for granted is a resource at risk of being lost, which is why we are dedicating National Groundwater Awareness Week 2021 to the advocacy of groundwater safety and protection and increasing its access across the country."
We need to mobilise! During the upcoming National Water Week 2021 (15 to 22 March) we hope to be part of some local initiatives in support of groundwater. This we trust will become the start of an 'underground wave' that will see Groundwater in South Africa get its own platform. If not a week, surely we can start by getting a day?
Contact us if you / your company have an outreach or event to showcase..
Contact us if you are aware of any opportunities we can take up and get the groundwater word out there..
or Share with us YOUR STORIES..
We are starting up a new feature on our website called ‘Our Stories’. We want to give a platform for our members and other to share their success stories/projects to the world. Tell us about your challenges with a difficult drilling site and how you overcome it; a new method you applied in an area; the research that you are busy with, etc. We need to share.
We are requesting only a maximum of 200 words, a photograph/figure and contact details. The writing must consist of a title, short description, the results and the impact of the work.
The contact details need to contain your details, the company/organisation/university details as well as the company/organisation/university logo.
We invite all our members to share experiences with us. And if the media picks up on a story, you will be contacted and not the GWD. This is free advertising for you and your organisation.
Interact with the biggest groundwater references from all around the world. Subscribe to their YouTube channel and make sure you don’t miss the last talks of the 1st Groundwater Project Event: Making Groundwater Visible! Learn more and explore the exciting panels: events.gw-project.org/2021
On Thursday, 04 February 2021 the University of Pretoria shared its latest doctoral research with GWD members:
The UP Department of Geology has for the past decade focused on how the soil and rock between land surface and the phreatic or saturated zone behave with respect to highly variable moisture contents.
They aim to contribute to knowledge on variably saturated flow through soil, rock defects, karst, and the interfaces between these media. This Talk on unsaturated hydraulics and the role of the vadose or unsaturated zone in engineering geology and hydrogeology was presented by past and current UP doctoral students:
The Session was facilitated by Prof Matthys A Dippenaar (Associate Professor: Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology) and Prof Louis J van Rooy (Associate Professor: Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics) from UP Geology Department (www.up.ac.za/geology)
Please email all queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following questions was raised and addressed during the session:
C Zermatten Q: Brandon- Is it correct to understand that your related experiments considered vertical flow from horizontal flow always to an open system (the cutting in the tunnel) and currently no information on vertical flow into a closed system?
C Zermatten Q: Mampho- Is it correct to understand that the lab tests used 1x shale sample and 1x quartzite sample (used repeatedly for wetting and rewetting etc)? (versus using multiple samples for comparison)
Did your work evaluate different types of shale (where mineralogical composition may be highly carbonaceous) and/or different extents of weathering of the shale (the photo you showed in the slides was quite pristine) – I would be interested to see your comparative results of weathered shale where the parting planes have opened to a greater extent.
C Zermatten Q: Duan- With regard to plant-soil interaction – have you been able to conceptualise the potential for site specific variability as a result of plant type (i.e. trees that are invasive, trees that are deciduous and trees
that are known to have an aggressive root system?
Frans van der Merwe Q : How effective is dam foundation grouting in an unsaturated rock mass? How do you ensure effectiveness?
A special thank you to the Water Research Commission for supporting research at the University of Pretoria.
The GWD Western Cape Branch under the vibrant chairpersonship of Dr Sumaya Israel, started off 2021 with this interesting topic presented by the much esteemed Helen Seyler - Thank you so much for sharing your research results with us Helen!
This talk presented research into the applicability of machine learning for the forward prediction of groundwater levels and flow regime, as an alternative to numerical modelling, using results from the dolomite aquifers in South Africa. The research supports a larger programme researching the use of big data analytics for water secure transboundary systems.
TALK ABSTRACT : Fundamental to the definition of groundwater availability and the management of any aquifer is an understanding of the changes in groundwater levels and storage, recharge, and groundwater discharge to surface water, when the aquifer is pumped. This understanding forms the foundation for the determination of limits of future abstraction and thresholds of unacceptable impact, and provides a tool against which to compare future datasets and make groundwater management decisions.
Given the complex nature of groundwater and the interdependent responses of the system to change, quantifying the relationship between the aquifer flow regime and abstraction, and determining the long-term implications of different thresholds on these systems requires the use of models. Generating accurate simulations for groundwater behaviour with numerical models is however challenging due to the requirement to accurately understand the physical system in order to simulate it and overcome the non-uniqueness of the numerical solutions, which in turn requires detailed datasets. It has therefore become attractive to test the application of machine learning techniques in the simulation of groundwater behaviour.
SPEAKER BIO: Helen has thirteen years experience as a hydrogeologist (in South Africa), including experience in various aspects of groundwater resources management, and specializing in numerical modelling for water resource quantification and scenario planning, wellfield operating rules, surface water – groundwater interactions, and the groundwater aspects for mining EIAs. She has a particular interest in "sustainable" groundwater use, and in social and economic development challenges as they relate to resources management. Her PhD thesis currently underway: Groundwater Decision Support Systems including Sustainability Indicators for Sustainable Groundwater Use.
A recording of this Talk is available on the GWD YouTube Channel:
Helen addressed these questions from participants during her session. Please refer to the Talk recording for her detailed feedback:
Arrey Agbor Q: Is the licensed abstraction data from the same area? And it would be interesting to hear how you dealt with the sources of errors with your data.
Nico van Zyl Q: Helen, why do you think LSTM Model performed better?
Sonia Veltman Q: Would you be able to overcome the storage effects with training the models with results from i.e. two layered numerical models? Where at first you calibrate the groundwater system through the numerical model and then use those time data sets to train the ANNs.?
Arrey Agbor Q: How about combining both ML and numerical models for explainability?
In addition, Helen shared an extract from the WRC report:
Tensorflow (Al-Abadi, 2016) in Python (Rossum, 1995) was used to model the LSTM (McKinney, 2010). Pandas, NumPy (Van Der Walt et al., 2011) and Matplotlib (Hunter, 2007) libraries were imported for management, processing and visualisation of data.
The nnetar function in the forecast package (Hyndman and Athanasopoulos, 2014) in R (R Core Team, 2017) is used to fit the NNAR model to the time series. The nnetar implements the NNAR model using a neural network with a sigmoid activation function, a single hidden layer and lagged inputs for forecasting the target variable.
Following this Talk, GWD Western Cape speaker Zaheed Gaffoor joined us to present on the topic: "Localizing regional scale groundwater big data using machine learning: A case study of the Ramotswa/NW/Gauteng Dolomites" in early March 2021.
The GWD applaud the recent initiative of Ms Izelda Uses-Mbatha - a teacher at the Wonderland Christian Pre- and Primary School, located in Clayville, Midrand - whom initiated, with the enthusiastic support from the school principal, a groundwater science workshop with her Grade 2 and 3 class in December 2020.
With the joint efforts of the Water Research Commission (Mrs Virginia Molose and Mr Yazeed van Wyk, Research managers at the WRC), the Department of Water and Sanitation (Mrs Olga de Beer and Mr Fanus Fourie) and the Ground Water Division (Ms Nicolette Vermaak, IGS), available learning materials were investigated, sourced and supplied where possible.
The following materials and sources were also recommended:
SA DWS Groundwater - A series of posters about groundwater and our health. It is an interactive teaching tool and must be used with the Teacher's Guide.
Poster 1 shows the water cycle [3.2 MB]
Poster 2 shows how groundwater can be polluted [2.5 MB]
Poster 3 shows you ways to keep water clean so that you stay healthy [3.2 MB]
It was especially the 'Fill and Colour' groundwater booklet with drawn groundwater pictures from the creative hand of Ms Nicolette Vermaak, that as a 1st draft version, inspired the possibility of similar materials that can be developed in the future.
Ms Izelda Uses-Mbatha reported that the Workshop was much enjoyed by the kids (and teachers alike) and hope to repeat this 'fun learning event' with other classes as well.
As part of the fun activities, the GWD invited the learners to take part in a coloring competition over the December 2020 holiday.
We can’t see groundwater because it’s hidden below
But the turning windmill is a tell and a show:
That somewhere, not too far under the ground
Lies a treasure of blue just waiting to be found!
The Division received 22 entries. All coloured pictures submitted by Grade 2A and Grade 3A are beautiful (!) and it was very difficult to decide on the final winner. It was only after a rigorous (and scientific) evaluation process, that an overall winner was announced:
Should you be interested in AWARENESS INITIATIVES & MATERIALS - do contact us via email@example.com and get involved.
GWD GROUNDWATER CONFERENCE & EXHIBITION 2021 - THEME
The UN-Water selected Theme for World Water Day 2022 is “Groundwater: making the invisible visible” – as proposed by International Groundwater Resource Assessment Centre.
AMCOW’s Pan-Africa Groundwater Program is geared towards building resilient groundwater resources of Africa.
SADC, through SADC-GMI continuously promotes sustainable groundwater development, that way ensuring water and food security for the Region.
The UN endeavors to ‘leave no one behind’ in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The current National Chair of the GWD-GSSA summarised his vision for the two-year duration to “putting groundwater in the media with the correct facts, the success stories of groundwater development and management.” Such facts are based on hydrogeology (and related) research and not research from skewed perspectives.
The integral message from all this is that groundwater should be afforded adequate management through proper development and protection in order to achieve the desired state of resilience. In keeping with these themes stemming from a common vision for groundwater resource sustainability, the following Theme for GWD Groundwater Conference & Exhibition 2021 is proposed;
RESILIENCE & VISIBILITY
RESEARCH. INNOVATE. DEVELOP. MANAGE. PROTECT.
Research and Development through Innovation must be the new narrative that shapes the developmental trajectory and future landscape of groundwater in South Africa and the world. A paradigm shift is needed by building a value chain towards demonstration and piloting to create impact by using groundwater as a tool for transformation.
On the other hand, resilience of groundwater to climate change, drought, anthropogenic activities, global pandemics, etc. can be achieved if all levels of governance can co-operate in ensuring integrated management of the resource and related information, proper development procedures, monitoring and protection; with the main focus on local municipalities. Moreover, groundwater-related policy and governance decisions should be informed by scientific research outcomes. This will promote the development of sound strategies from a groundwater perspective; and thus resulting in groundwater visibility. Hence, this all-encompassing theme is proposed.
We look forward to start sharing more information about this Conference.
GWD Conference Chair: Mr Kwazi Majola
Wish All a very Happy Season and good rest over this holiday period. We are thankful that we could spend the year together - staying in touch and finding even more opportunity to meet and share. Let us take the best of the year moving forward and take on 2021 with renewed vigor, focus and intent.
11 x Zoom sessions. Interesting intersecting topics hosted by the different GWD Branches: Western Cape, North West, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Central (Bloemfontein).
Special mention of all the Stakeholders, Networks, Memberships, Trade partners of 2020:
BWA, WISA, SADC-GMI, GEOSS, UP, IHP-SA, GAKZN, UKZN, WRC, UWC, DWS, GSSA, CGS, IGS
There is little that delights as much as seeing (and drinking) water when you are thirsty.
It satisfies a fundamental need, it’s a sensory experience bar none and its presence or lack thereof, a deeply emotive issue.
Thus when a community bereft of water for so long, see the first blow of it – spectacularly - from underground, it’s indeed an emotional almost spiritual experience.
And rightly so that the country and press celebrates the fact with them. Celebrates the hands that make it possible. The awe and thankfulness of the people that can now for the first time, some ever, have water close at hand to drink, to wash, to sanitise.
Access to groundwater has changed many lives, particularly also over this year. That is something that the sector also celebrates, after all – this is their trade, their science. Their body of knowledge being honed and studied and shared and debated for decades already: how to bring groundwater - responsibly, sustainably, and with good quality – to those that needs it.
But there is a cloud that seems to obscure this bright sunbeams/ waterstreams of light and hope. It resides and lies uneasy in the stomachs of those that know and rests heavy on the shoulders of the custodians:
Spectacular results can often end in spectacular failures....or just make for some complications later
Geohydrologists (groundwater specialists) realizes that it is difficult to create excitement and buzz around a mostly unseen commodity. A river, dam and waterfall can awe and become part of a scenery – its visual and spatial and you can interact with it to create memories. Groundwater on the other hand – well yes, its hidden. The only thing indicative of it (if anything) is usually a windpump or pumphouse or a 2 dimensional map. Not very sexy or newsworthy. (Nowadays, it is the exciting new playground of the data modellers and animators that bring the science more to life! Watch the press on this one)
That said, nothing is as spectacular as a blow yield. Water shooting up in the sky and raining down with the promise of life-giving nourishment.
But seasoned geohydrologists and drillers know only too well that it is mostly all show. There needs to be a constant yield pumping test done for at least over 8 to 12 hours and water needs to be tested to see if it is indeed suitable for human consumption. The test pumping will indicate the actual yield that can be pumped sustainably at long term as to ensure the impact on the underground aquifer, and all the interconnected flow, is not permanent. That the well can not only give water until the press and its followers turn the camera’s off and move on to the next ‘story of the moment’.
Giving the gift of water is a blessing also for the many geohydrologists that can do it – daily – but it is done, carefully and measuredly - not to overpromise, not as a show but through consideration and in support of their science, their well-toned and constantly honed body of knowledge.
In the year ahead we will start sharing ‘Our Stories’. It will be about our members and member organisations’s experiences working in the groundwater field – with communities, Industry, government, learning institutions – individuals. There is excellent work being done out there and telling about and sharing that work and the impact it have on those giving and/or receiving , groundwater – making up 98% of freshwater on the planet – will ensure this resource is properly celebrated and made visible.
We are starting up a new feature on our website called ‘Our Stories’. We want to give a platform for our members to share their success stories/projects to the world. Tell us about your challenges with difficult drilling site and how you overcome it; the new method you applied in an area; the research that you are busy with, etc. We need to share.
We are requesting only a maximum of 200 words, a photograph/figure and contact details. The writing must consist of a title, short description, the results and the impact of the work.
The contact details need to contain your details, the company/organisation/university details as well as the company/organisation/university logo.
We invite all our member to share experiences with us. And if the media picks up on a story, you will be contacted and not the GwD. This is free advertising for you and your organisation.
To all those interested in undertaking postgraduate research in the field of hydrology and hydrogeology, we would like to call your attention to four PhD opportunities at/in collaboration with the British Geological Survey, fully-funded as part of the NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships. Two of the opportunities are hosted the BGS headquarters in Nottinghamshire and two are co-supervised at the BGS. For more information, please visit the relevant links below.
Water Cycling In High-Altitude Wetlands – Implications For Water Security In The Peruvian Andes (CENTA)
BGS, University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, CONDESAN Peru
Conceptual modelling of global groundwater variability and change (SSCP)
BGS, Imperial College London
Glaciers and future water supplies in the Himalayas (GW4+)
University of Exeter, BGS
Natural flood management impacts on groundwater-surface water dynamics in upland areas (E4)
University of Edinburgh, BGS, University of Dundee
A full list of BGS hosted and collaborative PhDs is available at https://www.bgs.ac.uk/geological-research/bufi/phd-opportunities/