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Reclaimed Water May Ease South Africa's Shortages

In 2015, South Africa recorded the lowest rainfall since 1904. South Africa’s surface water levels have drastically decreased. The dams and rivers that provide us with 77% of our water supply are turning into puddles.

Groundwater supplies – water drawn from underground – are replenished when surface water soaks through absorbent rock and collects underground. It adds only 4% to the total supply. It is a very valuable source for communities in rural and desert regions. It provides the water to towns and smaller settlements and it is used for irrigation. Accessing groundwater requires a borehole or well to be built.

The effects of the drought have crept further south into Cape Town, leaving estate barons with no water to keep their golf courses plush. Despite the call to cut down on water usage, Capetonians have instead been using more water. Those that are being affected the most are the country’s poor. Out of desperation, they may resort to using unsafe alternative water sources.

As a potential supplier of water during times of drought, groundwater is not a sustainable long-term water solution. There is a huge possibility that we will suck reserves dry. To avoid an overdependence on dwindling freshwater supplies, reusing water, specifically sewage water is becoming a sensible solution.

Marco Cevat

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