Cape Town Aquifers will this help to avoid another brush with Day Zero?
Cape Town Aquifers - For a long time, the City of Cape Town has been challenged by severe water shortages and are continuing with efforts to provide a steady and sustainable water supply that is suitable and safe for consumption. Although highly dependent on water saving efforts by residents, they have also managed to extract water from beneath the surface in the shape of aquifers.
What is an Aquifer?
An aquifer is a body of rock which allows liquids or gasses to pass through. In the case of Cape Town, the specific aquifers are underground layers of water-bearing permeable rock which is currently being used to extract water. Aquifers are replenished when groundwater created by precipitation and climate conditions moves between the permeable materials to an area of extraction.
Cape Town Aquifers
The City of Cape Town has identified three major sites from which water is being extracted. One is located in the Cape Flats, the second at Table Mountain and the third in Atlantis. Currently, an estimated 150 million litres of water can be extracted from these aquifers daily. This amount seems like a lot but considering that Cape Town uses approximately 500 million litres of water a day (with restrictions) and that nearly 140 million litres of water evaporate from our dams daily, aquifers are not the sole solution for the city’s water shortage problem. The main advantage of aquifers is that if monitored and maintained correctly, they can provide water for generations to come. If not monitored aquifers can run dry and even, because Cape Town is coastal, run the risk of a seawater pushback – when salt water starts filling up the aquifers.
Can Aquifers replace rainfall dependant dams?
The Western Cape is still highly dependent on surface water which fills our dams annually. The July rainfall has provided some relief and even managed to fill the 6 major dams to a combined capacity of 52%. This is the highest the dam level has been at since late 2016. Both aquifers and dams rely on rainfall although the impact on aquifers is significantly less then dams.