Boreholes - key to saving water in Johannesburg

The City of Johannesburg’s water and sanitation provision entity - Johannesburg Water - has entered into a partnership with Borehole Water Association (BWA) to encourage residents to switch to borehole water in an effort to mitigate the crippling drought. 

Yesterday saw the two parties sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the launch of a city-wide campaign to encourage residents, particularly those living in affluent areas, to consider boreholes as an alternative water supply source.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services Councillor, Matshidiso Mfikoe, who witnessed the signing between Johannesburg Water’s MD, Lungile Dhlamini and BWA Chairman, Collin Rice, made a call to residents to save water especially in the wake of the severe drought facing the city and the country.

“We’re a water-scarce country and everyone has a responsibility to save this scarce resource,” she said.

“Boreholes are a component of the water mix the City is exploring. This includes harvesting ground and rainwater and recycling it. We’re looking at innovative ways to save water. So we encourage you to work with us. Check if you can drill a borehole on your property,” MMC Mfikoe said, adding that 10 of the city’s most affluent areas had been identified as being ideal for the sinking of boreholes.

The drilling of a borehole can cost anything between R30 000 and R50 000, according to experts. And according to Dhlamini there are already 13 500 boreholes in Johannesburg. Saying that the drought had resulted in the growth in demand. 

Parks, golf clubs, schools, churches and office parks were among those that would be encouraged to sink boreholes on their properties. Dhlamini said water in Johannesburg was expensive because some of it was imported from Lesotho. South Africans on average used the most water in the world, he said.

“The world average is 175l per person per day. The South African average is 235l per person per day, while in Johannesburg it’s 300l per person per day,” Dhlamini said, adding that this was unsustainable.

“We need to educate people about water conservation. We need behavioural change to deal with the increasing demand for water,” he said.

“The challenge for Gauteng is that we are the most populous province, with five million people living in Johannesburg. Ageing infrastructure and unpaid water debt are major challenges.”

He said over the past three years the City’s strategic focus had been on closing the gap between demand for water and consumption.

“We have already replaced 572km (of the 11000km) of water pipes,” he said.

Effluence and acid mine drainage water treatment and recycling were also under control, Dhlamini concluded.

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