Boreholes: to register or not to register


Boreholes could be the answer to the crippling drought – one of the worst challenges facing South Africa at the moment. The Department of Water and Sanitation, however, warns that there are a lot of aspects to consider before drilling a borehole in your backyard.
Scientist, Mfundi Biyela, from the Department of Water and Sanitation, says groundwater is not found everywhere and geo hydrological studies have to be conducted to find out if an aquifer exists. He warns that although many people do not go through the trouble to conduct these studies first, drilling blindly can mean you would sit with a very expensive hole in your yard. He said drilling can easily cost you up to R40 000 and more.
If the geo hydrological tests find an aquifer, it is all systems go to start the process and appoint a company that can do the drilling. The department warns that it is important to make sure that installation of the borehole is being done properly. Drilling too deep will cause damage and improper construction may see the soil cave in on the borehole.
Dephney Kabini, also from the department, warns that after the drilling, the first thing on your to-do-list should be testing the water from the borehole before using it.
“Groundwater as well as surface water needs to be treated, depending on its use,” says Kabini.
Borehole owners should also take into consideration that, according to the National Water Act (NWA) of 1998, water is a national resource; this implies that groundwater is no longer regarded as the property of the specific land owner.
The NWA aims to use all water within the natural water cycle to benefit all users. According to the Borehole Water Association of Southern Africa it is not legally required to get permission neither to drill a borehole nor to register a borehole.
However, once the borehole has been drilled and water has been found, registration of the water use, which in this case is groundwater, must be done, depending on the ultimate usage. This means that boreholes drilled for reasonable domestic use, small gardening and water for house pets is allowed. If an individual uses more than 10 kilolitres of water a day for a non-commercial small garden, it is deemed as exceeding the limit and therefore the borehole should be registered.
Borehole owners should, however, note that this is not a source of unlimited water supply. The water can run dry if abstracted too fast or when over-abstracted. The borehole should be allowed to recharge before abstraction continues. – Larry Crisp

Water saving tips

South Africa is a water scarce country which depends on favourable rainfall patterns for much of its water.
The shortage of water and the declaration of the Free State as a drought-stricken province should encourage citizens to adopt a lifestyle change when it comes to conservation of this precious resource.
Below are five top water saving tips for the week:
• Turn the tap off between washing your face, brushing your teeth or shaving.
• Take a five-minute shower a day, instead of a bath. You will use a third of the water used bathing in a bath tub, saving up to 400 litres a week.
• Use low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilet mechanisms and water-efficient washing machines.
• Kettles should not be filled to the brim but with just enough water for your needs. This will reduce your electricity bill too.
• Reducing the toilet flush volume alone can save 20% of total water consumption. This can be done by either adjusting the water level adjustment screw in the cistern or putting a 2-litre cold drink bottle, filled with water and a little sand to add weight, inside the cistern.
Larry Crisp