Project Profile

Enhancing Sustainable Groundwater Use in South Africa

Duration : April 1, 2018 - September 30, 2020
(Extended to September 30, 2021)

In this project, we seek to clarify critical river-aquifer interaction processes in conjunction by using and further developing traditional and innovative field techniques. These include geophysics, hydraulic head measurements in the aquifer in and adjacent to the river, differential river gauging (McCallum et al., 2014), heat as a tracer (Roshan et al., 2012), and environmental tracers such as stable isotopes (Healy, 2010). The episodic and localized nature of groundwater replenishment, coupled with intensive use of groundwater in the Limpopo River Basin, means that groundwater may be significantly overexploited during periods and in areas, where recharge is not significant. It also implies that groundwater may be replenished on a cyclical basis dependent on climate and climate variability (Taylor et al., 2012). Understanding this spatial and temporal variability in the context of groundwater replenishment, storage and exploitation becomes central for sustainable management. In other words, groundwater may be replenished on an irregular basis, but if knowledge exists on the stochastic properties related to events and recharge processes, much better management can be put in place in these settings.

Location(s): South Africa
Project Contact: Villholth, Karen G.
Donor(s): DANIDA

Farmers cultivating lettuce, while another farmer digs a small canal (marwa) with a donkey, Egypt. Photo: cc: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI