Event Debrief /Talking about: Groundwater Awareness

Event Debrief /Talking about: Groundwater Awareness

29 Apr 2021
CPD EVENT 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
Groundwater awareness
Home News Event Debrief /Talking about: Groundwater Awareness

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.



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?



N Vermaak Powerpoint Presentation: GWD-webinar-19-February-2021 (.pdf - 2.15 MB)



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 IzeldaWorkshop 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

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.

For anybody interested in the Translation initiative (translating the Wally_and_Deannas_Groundwater_Adventure booklet) : please contact [email protected] 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

Thank you to all the Attendees that contacted us after the event to set up meetings and start contributing towards coordinated GROUNDWATER AWARENESS INITIATIVES in the SectorLook forward to further contact.


Other examples driving the need for Groundwater Awareness


Lake Sibaya is SA's largest freshwater lake, but experts warn it could dry up within the next 10 years. #CarteBlance


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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:


Falling water levels in the Maputaland Coastal Aquifer

Download Mark's full 2018 Opinion Piece

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 time for opinion and speculation is over, and science-based solutions are required as a matter of urgency to save and preserve one of the most productive groundwater aquifers in Southern Africa.


Children playing in water
All natural water found in the earth's subsurface is called groundwater. When we look hard enough, we can find groundwater almost anywhere. Picture: Brendan Megaar/African News Agency(ANA) ANAPIX













Sustainable and wise use of groundwater is important

"Sustainable and wise use of groundwater is important" Dr Eelco Lukas shares the facts: https://iol.co.za/capeargus/opin

Have something to say?



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..

(Y)our 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.


Groundwater project
Online Platform for Groundwater Knowledge
Groundwater Learning for Everyone Everywhere
Online books and educational materials free of charge








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