N$270 million for emergency plan

Groundwater in the Windhoek aquifer will be over-extracted to avert a major water crisis in the short term.

25 October 2016 | Disasters

The first phase of a project to address the water crisis in central Namibia will cost more than N$273 million.

About three months after the Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security and its Technical Committee of Experts were appointed, they gave a progress report yesterday.

According to Pedro Maritz, technical advisor to the committee, it has developed and started implementing an emergency plan to avert the water crisis in Windhoek.

The Von Bach Dam, which is currently the only dam supplying Windhoek, will run dry by the end of the year.

After that the city will be 90% dependent on its own groundwater resources and 10% will be extracted from the Karst area near Grootfontein.

Maritz explained that the committee had decided on a three-phase approach.

Phase one will address the critical water shortage in Windhoek, together with unforeseen shortfalls in the rest of central Namibia, over a period of 18 months from 1 September to 1 January 2018.

The committee has identified the following emergency projects under phase one: development of new municipal boreholes (N$219.7 million), upgrade of the Kombat and Berg Aukas system (N$9.7million), maintenance of the Grootfontein to Omataka canal system (N413 million), groundwater sourcing around Karibib (N$13.9 million), pumping float at Swakoppoort Dam (N$1.1 million) and pumping float at Von Bach Dam (N$5.8 million). N$10 million has been set aside for contingency provision.

Phase two will extend the evaluation measures recommended for water security in the central area for another two years, while the third phase will look at the future and long-term water requirements of the entire country.

Maritz said steps have been taken to avert any shortage until the end of next year, but further attention is required to address the situation after that.

He said pumping installations at Berg Aukas and Kombat are being upgraded and water supply from the Karst area is reaching Windhoek consumers already.

Maritz said the water supply from the Von Bach Dam, together with that from the Karst area, should be able to meet the city''s demand until the beginning of next year. This is provided that an emergency pumping installation will be completed towards the end of December to be able to withdraw water from the dead storage capacity at the dam.

All the remaining water in the Omatako Dam has now been pumped to the Von Bach Dam. No transfer of water from the Swakoppoort Dam to Windhoek is envisaged, as the remaining water in that dam is used to supply the Navachab mine and Karibib.





An extensive programme has been embarked on to drill, equip and link new boreholes in and around Windhoek. The bulk of the boreholes should come into operation by the end of December.

The drilling programme is well under way and the first production boreholes that will form the core of the supply system have been drilled and tested.

City of Windhoek executive Pierre van Rensburg said the Windhoek aquifer will be over-extracted to survive during this water crisis.

At the moment 27 boreholes are being utilised and they can supply about a quarter of the city''s water requirements.

Twelve new boreholes are being drilled and they will be able to supply the same amount of water as the current 27 boreholes.

“We will over-extract the aquifer by about ten times its yield,” he said, adding that the aquifer currently holds enough water to last three years.

Water levels in both the Swakoppoort and the Von Bach dams are rapidly reaching their dead storage levels, after which special pumps will be needed to extract the remaining water at the bottom.

This has already been done at Swakoppoort. At Von Bach the installation will be completed by 15 December.

“Namibia is rapidly reaching the point that the interior of the country is consuming more water than it can supply and then it will either have to go to the sea or to its border rivers for water. These are massive projects but have to be undertaken to sustain Namibia,” Maritz said.



ELLANIE SMIT

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