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Billions of cubic metres of water in Table Mountain Group Aquifer

John Maytham talks to Barry Wood, Manager Bulk Water for City of Cape Town and Chris Hartnady, Hydrogeological leader on the Table Mountain Group Aquifer Project at Umvoto.

Level 3 restrictions seem to be failing and the City says they are considering tightening restrictions further.

The dams are not going to run empty before the onset of winter rains.

Barry Wood, Manager City of Cape Town Bulk Water, Water and Sanitation Dept

He says the current demand is urban and agricultural demand and the dams will probably drop to about 20% by the end of summer, onset of winter.

Our concern is not so much for now, but it is for next summer because these dams take between one and three years to fill....this summer we believe we are still going to make it through.

Barry Wood, Manager City of Cape Town Bulk Water, Water and Sanitation Dept

Wood explained that water planning is done by the City in conjunction with National Department.

The first additional scheme is Voelvlei Augmentation Scheme which will come on around 2021 when additional water will be pumped from the berg River into Voelvlei Dam.

A City project is the reuse project - to be in place by 2023 - 100 mega litres of waste water recycled to drinking standard in the first phase.

The third, phased project is the Table Mountain Aquifer Group project for 2024, he says.

An aquafer is a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater.

Chris Hartnady says the Table Mountain Group Aquifer Project is a City project started in 2002. The first phase was a reconnaissance phase selecting areas to target.

By 2007 they were planning for the drilling of several exploration boreholes. This was completed in 2009 and monitoring equipment was installed to monitor surface water in the area.

How much water is in the Table Mountain Aquifer?

It's underneath a lot of the dams. Whereas we get 400 million cubic metres from the dams, there are billions of cubic metres in storage in the Table Mountain group Aquifers.

Chris Hartnady, Table Mountain Group Aquifer Project

He says the challenge is to access it economically and manage the system ensuring we are not doing any damage to the perennial flows to the underground streams.

Costs are relatively low compared to building new dams or desalination, he added.

The next phase - the pilot project and testing phase - is the most crucial phase.

Listen to the interviews below:

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