VOLUME TITLE:                       Groundwater: Data, Disaster and Dependency


Prof Matthys A Dippenaar, University of Pretoria (senior lecturer); Ground Water Division of the Geological Society of South Africa (national chair);

Dr Shafick Adams, Water Research Commission (research manager); Ground Water Division of the Geological Society of South Africa (past national chair);

MANAGING GUEST EDITOR:    Matthys Dippenaar


Groundwater is used widely throughout the African continent, with millions of people being dependent on the availability of sufficient quantities groundwater of acceptable quality. However, as was evident with the recent drought, as well as numerous other extreme events and hydrometeorological disasters such as flooding, topsoil erosion, surface water quality deterioration, and crop failure, groundwater often only provides the immediate relief during disaster rather than being the primary source of potable water.

Groundwater does have the ability to be a sustainable resource for water supply during times of crisis as well as in-between. Its enhanced resilience to climate change and quality deterioration when compared to surface water is advantageous despite the often irregular distribution of high yielding aquifers. While we understand that all aquifers aren’t equal everywhere, their ability to supply long-term relief to certain areas should not be discounted.

Beyond this, hydrogeological risks such as groundwater flooding, groundwater mining, ecosystem failure, environmental degradation, disease, aquifer consolidation, and ground subsidence pose further constraints on the successful and sustainable utilisation of the groundwater resource.  While the groundwater resource is often very well understood, it’s resilience to climate change and anthropogenic change through lifecycle changes and urbanisation is often not completely understood given poor resolution data, lack of continuous monitoring data, and/ or institutional, infrastructure and policy failure resulting in loss of data.

This brings one to the questions: how can Africa and the world continue its dependency on groundwater through periods of disaster due to climatic extremes, altered hydrological cycles, increasing demand, deteriorating quality, and failing infrastructure?  Spatial and temporal data of changing levels, yields and quality under changing environmental conditions and water use are lacking. Forward planning without historical trends is not only hard, but also statistically compromised.

Through this special issue, it is hoped that data can be made available about the geology and hydrogeology of regions with specific emphasis on the hydrogeological response to drought, dewatering, abstraction, pollution, and other natural and anthropogenic impacts on the resource. Papers contributing to this broad theme are invited to the special issue. All papers have to address the detailed geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, climate and hydrostratigraphy of a region at the hand of appropriate data. Lithological, hydraulic, hydrological, geotechnical, pedological, climatic and/ or mechanical data are acceptable in the broader context of earth science. Data should be scientifically sound, statistically significant, and relevant to informing about the need and relevance of acquiring and monitoring data to better manage groundwater resources.

Studies should be previously unpublished and should contribute not only to improved understanding of groundwater as a sustainable alternative to future water supply, but also to improved methods of managing data and informed decision-making at the hand of reliable data.  Studies showing the use of data, management of big databases, or the consequences of bad data management in the broader groundwater science and management domains are academically significant, contributing to the understanding of hydrogeological systems while also contributing to the sustainable development goals (SDG 6), sustainable access to clean drinking water, and empowering open data.


The guest editors will compile a preface entailing a review and examples from Southern African perspectives.  The submission will be on “Groundwater’s response to change in the greater hydrological cycle: South African context”.  The paper will be prepared as part of the opening session of the conference to link the conference theme to actual dependency and disaster topics.

We are also hosting a “convert your study to an academic paper” session at the conference, to urge consultants and non-academic persons to convert their large databases from mining, infrastructure development, parastatals, government associations etc. to acceptable publishable content.  70 abstracts were selected, and it is believed that at least eight publishable papers of high, internationally acceptable and appropriate quality can be submitted to the special issue.  Topics include:

  • Response of selected aquifer systems to the recent droughts
  • Surface expressions of water ingress or groundwater abstraction and dewatering
  • Quality deterioration due to anthropogenic practices
  • Trend data and interpretation
  • Automated monitoring and data acquisition
  • Data versus policy and management of important aquifers.


31 October 2019:           Online submissions open JAES Special Issue - Groundwater - Author Guidelines

28 February 2020:          Deadline for submissions of papers to the special issue

31 May 2020:                Feedback to authors after review

31 July 2020:                 Revisions due

30 November 2020:       Completion of the review and revision process; papers available online.

National Chairperson: Mr Fanus Fourie
Vice-Chairperson: Ms Nicolette Vermaak
National Treasurer: Mr Yazeed van Wyk
National Secretariat: Dr Jaco Nel
National Coordinator: Ms Elanda Schaffner

Please contact this Committee via [email protected]

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