Drilling on Cape flats aquifer starts

Observer on Saturday - - News - News 24

CAPE TOWN – The City of Cape Town drilled its first test bore­hole into the Cape Flats aquifer on Thurs­day, hop­ing that the earth’s nat­u­ral un­der­ground reser­voirs would pro­vide an ex­tra 80 mil­lion litres of water per day as dams dry up in a pro­longed drought.

“This is the first in the his­tory of the City of Cape Town that we’re go­ing to drill for water and ex­tract that water that’s been there for mil­lions of years,” said Mayor Pa­tri­cia De Lille dur­ing a site visit in Mitchells Plain on Thurs­day.

The City has a li­cence to ex­tract 80 mil­lion litres of water from the Cape Flats Aquifer per day, 40 mil­lion from the Ta­ble Moun­tain Group Aquifer and 40 mil­lion from the At­lantis Aquifer.

The drilling, how­ever, is just the first stage of pos­si­bly res­cu­ing the city from “Day Zero” – when it has no more water to pump to its res­i­dents, busi­nesses and vis­i­tors – it does not mean that the water is avail­able im­me­di­ately.

Water sam­ples must be tested, and spe­cial­ists will de­ter­mine the ex­tent of the treat­ment and pu­rifi­ca­tion it needs ahead of the in­stal­la­tion of retic­u­la­tion pipes that con­nect the water to the over­haul sys­tem. The team plans to drill at sev­eral prei­den­ti­fied sites to find the high­est yield­ing points as quickly as pos­si­ble.

The first drill site was based at the waste water treat­ment plant in Mitchells Plain. The team laid out piles of dif­fer­ent coloured wet soil which had been ex­tracted, to demon­strate the depths drilled so far.


In blaz­ing heat, blue PVC pipes were joined to be sunk into the hole to start bring­ing water to the sur­face.

“I am ex­cited,” said ma­chine op­er­a­tor Elias Le­shaba, tak­ing cover from the tree­less dune heat un­der a truck while the may­oral visit was un­der­way.

“We drilled the whole night,” said Hy­dro­ge­ol­o­gist Derek Whit­field of the small team tasked with sav­ing the city from the drought.

De Lille be­lieves aquifer ex­trac­tion will bring big­ger vol­umes of water into the city’s sys­tems at a much re­duced cost com­pared to other meth­ods, such as de­sali­na­tion.

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