Gift of the Givers boosts quest for water in Beaufort West

14 November 2017 - 11:49 By Petru Saal
File photo.
File photo.
Image: iStock

Humanitarian aid organisation Gift of the Givers is pouring millions into a “crisis intervention plan” to prevent the taps running dry in the drought-stricken town of Beaufort West.

The organisation has invested R6-million towards finding more sources of underground water and drilling boreholes in the historic Western Cape town.

“Gift of the Givers has been very aware that Beaufort West was at a critical stage in terms of water availability as dam levels were dropping‚” said a post on the charity’s Facebook page.

“We had already embarked on a crisis intervention plan and had brought in a specialist hydrologist‚ Dr Gideon Groenewald‚ to study the possibility of accessing underground aquifers‚ drill boreholes‚ and investigate the possibility of pumping water into the dam.

“Dr Groenewald and team were on site and commenced drilling in Beaufort West on 1 November. We have attained a yield of 220‚000 litres per day. The procedure of drilling in various areas continues… as we target the delivery of 1-million litres of water per day. The minimum cost thus far is R6-million. We expect this to rise substantially. In the meantime‚ our trucks are preparing to deliver bottled water to Beaufort West with immediate effect.”

Beaufort West is in desperate need of funds‚ so that the town can extract more borehole water. The town’s main surface water supply‚ the Gamka Dam‚ is empty. The municipal director of engineering‚ Norwood Kotze‚ said there would be a crisis if the existing boreholes started running dry.

“We are not yet at day zero‚ [but] at this stage our only water source is borehole water. It is difficult to determine how much water is left from the water sources we are currently using – day zero [could] be in one month or two months‚” said Kotze.

Beaufort West suffered a devastating drought in 2010. Kotze said that the current drought could be worse. “All the signs of the water crisis in 2010 are here. This year we have had a 100mm of rainfall‚ [whereas] normally we have 266mm. Borehole sources need to be refilled‚ and rain is the only thing that can do that. The low rainfall didn’t adequately fill [groundwater reserves]‚” he warned.

Kotze said an estimated R45-million was needed to drill additional boreholes to tap into aquifers to the south of the town.

Gift of the Givers is also delivering animal feed and food to residents in the drought-stricken town of Vredendal‚ bordering Namaqualand.