South African consulting and engineering firm JG Afrika is working hard to change the mindset around using South Africa’s groundwater to mitigate water scarcity, despite project failures in the past.
JG Afrika technical director Mark Schapers and JG Afrika executive associate Regan Rose agree that failures can mainly be attributed to the limited manner in which groundwater initiatives are implemented, compounded by the abuse of the groundwater resource in the operation and maintenance phase.
These projects provide a cost- effective alternative to pumping water from other sources of supply. In addition, groundwater is a more resilient to evaporation than surfacewater, and is three orders of magnitude more abundant than fresh surfacewater sources on the planet.
There are many government projects that continue to successfully demonstrate the larger, standalone role that groundwater will be able to play in future water systems. Alternatively, groundwater can be used to bolster or alleviate pressure on existing supply infrastructure.
Rose gives the example of having worked closely with a municipality since 2012 to aid it in developing its own groundwater resources for watering sports complexes.
This project complements a host of other JG Afrika projects, including the firm’s involvement as the professional geohydrologist for a large water and sanitation initiative for schools in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
Project sustainability is not a technical exercise alone. From the outset, JG Afrika’s geohydrologists focus on ensuring buy-in from beneficiaries and all stakeholders in surrounding communities.
All JG Afrika sites are treated as business plans and a methodical approach is applied throughout, starting with thorough desktop studies and detailed planning of activities, through to the completion of comprehensive feasibility studies for clients.
In addition, reliable and recognised equipment is used in the geophysical-surveying phases of projects, ensuring accuracy and a high success rate of the infrastructure.
“Great care is taken throughout, even in implementing strict measures to avoid contamination of the groundwater resources once they are exposed.”
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