A borehole is an expensive investment. Make sure you do your homework.
- It is advisable to ask for references preferably from clients who have had time to assess the quality of work over a reasonable period.
- The drilling contractor can never guarantee that he will strike water, and therefore it is the client who is at risk for cost of the borehole, regardless of whether it is wet or dry.
- It is in your best interest to sign a contract that details all the costs that are likely to be incurred. Bear in mind, though, that the drilling contractor cannot be expected to say beforehand what the borehole will cost in total. There are many unknowns to consider such as the borehole’s final depth, the amount required and the time taken for its development.
- Insist that the driller provide a record of the exact depth at which the most promising water fissure is located. This information is of vital importance to the pump installer so that he can select the correct pump for your needs.
- You may wish to sell your farm or property at a later stage, and the borehole represents a substantial capital investment. A driller’s log, construction certificate, yield test certificate, electrical clearance, pump details and commissioning data will be positive proof of the professionalism of the contractor.
- Is he/she a member of the Borehole Water Association of Southern Africa (BWA)? Membership of BWA shows that the contractor/supplier you are dealing with is interested in the long-term viability, professionalism and survival of the industry.
- The local municipality/council may require that permission be obtained to sinking a borehole. This is normally little more than a formality.
- The minimum specifications of most banks in South Africa for granting a bond on property not supplied with mains water, e.g. farm houses, plots and smallholdings, is that a yield certificate be supplied by a recognised pump installer that states that the borehole on the property is capable of yielding a constant flow of water from the borehole of a minimum of 1500 litres over a 24 hour period. They are also required to supply proof that the water is hygienically safe for human consumption.
- There are SABS standards now available for the ground water industry.
More detailed information is available from the Borehole Water Association. Included in its offerings is the publication A Layman’s Guide to Borehole Ownership.
Wind driven water supply schemes for communities require three basic items:
Wind. Wind data is available in most parts of the world, even in remote rural areas. Windmills can be so designed that they can pump water in the lightest or strongest winds. In light wind areas the cost of pumping water with windmills will increase. As a generalisation, windmills are most economic in areas where the wind speed exceeds 10 km/hr for a period exceeding eight hours per day.
Water. Underground water is available in most parts of the world at varying depths. Windmills are capable of pumping water from surface water sources over long distances or from great depths of up to 200 metres underground or even more with special windmill configurations. Windmill pumping schemes should be designed so that they never extract more than 70 percent of the tested well yield.
Community buy-in. If this is a community project, rule one is that the local populace must see the real need for clean potable water. Without this need, any water supply system will fail. This is the most important rule of windmill water supply and is the most neglected part of the installation process.
Source: Southern Cross Industries
Local business environment
For information on the aquifer classification system of South Africa, refer to Water Research Commission (WRC) research report ‘South African aquifer system management classification’ (WRC Report No: KV 77/95; Author: Mr. Parsons R).
According to the Water Research Commission (WRC), the total volume of available, renewable groundwater in South Africa is 10,34-billion m3 per year. The country’s annual usage of this water is estimated as being between 2-billion and 4-billion m3. There is the potential to considerably increase groundwater supplies in South Africa as part of the total resource. Find the report “Groundwater to play a key role in South Africa – WRC” (2011) on the Internet.
National strategy and government contacts
A three-tier system is applied for the use of groundwater.
- Schedule 1 user: No registration is needed if the volume of water used is less than 10m3/day
- Schedule 2 user: Allocations are determined by water catchment area and property size. Registration can be done on the DWS website and usually takes a few days to be approved (farmers who keep livestock and irigate small areas usually fall into this category)
- Schedule 3 user: Water usage exceeds 40 000m3/year or is above the general authorisation limit, and a water licence is required. This takes about 300 days to complete. You will need a drilling certificate which stipulatesthe depth and diametre of the borehole, the rock formationj in which the hole was drilled, and the type of construction done to keep the borehole safe (do not pay a driller until he has given you this certificate). The water has to be analysed according to SANS 10299. Satellite technology and remote sensing is used to validate water usuage. Flow and depth meters to monitor fluctuating water levels and water usage have to be installed on every borehole.
Source: Kriel, G. 2018. “Get your water licensing in order, farmers urged”. Farmer’s Weekly, 15 June.
Department of Water & Sanitation www.dws.gov.za
Using groundwater (along with surface water) will be a key part of solving South Africa’s looming water-stressed status. Find the National Groundwater Strategy. Also on this website, find contact details for Groundwater Offices (national and provincial), documents and strategy, links and more. Because of the predominantly hard rock nature of the South African geology, only about 20% of groundwater occurs in major aquifer systems. Groundwater contributes 9% of the country’s water resources and plays a crucial role, especially in rural water supply.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) www.dalrrd.gov.za
Directorate: Infrastructure Support Tel: 012 319 846 8502
Associations and statutory
- The Borehole Water Association of Southern Africa (BWA) is a non-profit, professional and trade organisation representing all aspects of the groundwater industry. Included in their membership are central and local government departments, leading enterprises who manufacture drilling, pumping, electronic and ancillary equipment, professional consultants, contractors and interested individuals. Water Talk is an electronic newsletter sent out by them, which keeps members informed of current items of interest in the groundwater industry. Call 011 447 0853 and visit www.bwa.co.za.
- Geological Society of South Africa Ground Water Division (GWD) Tel: 012 348 9598 www.gwd.org.za
- South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Tel: 012 428 7911 www.sabs.co.za
- The South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) is the recognised body of the bottled water industry. The association was formed in an effort to ensure the quality standards of members and protect the consumer against misrepresentation from within the industry. Call 011 884 5916 or take a look at www.sanbwa.org.za.
Training and research
- ARC-Soil, Climate and Water (SCW) Tel: 012 310 2500 www.arc.agric.za Included in research done by the ARC-SCW is the testing of underground water. In Limpopo, this was followed by water treatment plants being installed in the compounds of farm workers to improve the living quality of all people living and working on these farms (ARC Annual Report 2013/14)
- GRIP Limpopo http://griplimpopo.co.za
- North West University (Potchefstroom Campus) Centre for Water Sciences and Management Tel: 018 293 2063 www.waterscience.co.za
- Rhodes University Institute for Water Research Tel: 046 622 4014 www.ru.ac.za/iwr/
- University of the Free State Institute for Groundwater Studies Tel: 051 401 2482 fouriefd [at] ufs.ac.za www.ufs.ac.za/igs
- Water Research Commission (WRC) Tel: 012 761 9300 info [at] wrc.org.za, dikeledim [at] wrc.org.za www.wrc.org.za
Companies and service providers
See also the “Pumps & generators” page
- AGES Group Tel: 018 297 6588 http://ages-group.com
- Agri & Industrial Services Tel: 032 551 5213
- Aqua Earth Tel: 011 791 3490 www.aquaearth.co.za
- Aquaman Drilling Trust Tel: 015 517 7210 aquaman [at] mailus.co.za
- Bauer Technologies South Africa Tel: 011 805 3307 www.bauersa.co.za
- Bomme Reaipela Tel: 082 689 7160 https://bommereaipela.co.za
- Booysen Bore Drilling Company Tel: 053 723 2666
- Borequip Tel: 021 949 0902
- Brisan Turbo Tel: 012 361 3997 http://brisanpumps.com
- Brumby Pumps Tel: 083 612 0475 / 083 234 7302 www.brumbypumps.com
- Copperleaf Consulting Tel: 033 343 3410 www.clcon.co.za
- CSIR Hydrosciences www.csir.co.za/hydrosciences
- Elsumo Tel: 021 875 5781 www.elsumo.co.za
- Engeocon Tel: 033 343 1226
- Ernest Electro Engineering Tel: 011 792 9550/1/2 http://ernestee.co.za
- FAB Water Engineering Tel: 011 793 5513 www.fabwater.com
- Franklin Electric SA Tel: 011 723 6500 www.franklin-electric.co.za
- GCS Water & Environmental Consultants Tel: 011 803 5726 www.gcs-sa.biz
- Geomeasure Group Tel: 031 765 1900 www.geomeasuregroup.co.za
- Georoc Tel: 013 932 1740
- Geohydrological and Spatial Solutions International (GEOSS) Tel: 021 880 1079 www.geoss.co.za
- Gobora Drilling Tel: 082 777 1442 www.goboradrilling.co.za
- Ground Water Practitioners Tel: 013 661 1300 www.gwv.co.za
- Groundwater Africa Tel: 021 852 0847 www.groundwaterafrica.co.za
- Hardrock Drilling Tel: 011 807 2000 / 083 442 3526 www.hardrock-drilling.co.za
- J. Gey van Pittus Tel: 021 858 1204 www.jgeyvanpittius.co.za
- Jooste Cylinder & Pump Co. Tel: 021 854 6518 http://joostecylinders.com
- Kwa-Natal Drilling Tel: 035 340 1205 www.kwanataldrilling.com
- Lanseria Drilling Tel: 076 727 6464
- Lisiphe GeoConsulting Tel: 031 837 6933 / 082 425 5156
- McBeans Tel: 033 342 1541 www.mcbeans.co.za
- MEGA Environmental & Groundwater Alliances Tel: 083 381 4560 www.megateam.co.za
- National Drilling Tel: 039 315 1036 http://nationaldrilling.co.za
- RJ Irrigation Tel: 018 290 9625 www.rjirrigation.co.za
- Southern Cross Industries Tel: 051 434 3861 www.southx.co.za
- Staden Borehole Pumps Tel: 051 522 0397 http://stadenpumps.com
- Stewarts and Lloyds Tel: 0860 10 27 99 www.stewartsandlloyds.co.za
- Steyn Drilling Contractor Tel: 013 751 3871 www.steyndrillingcontractors.co.za
- T&T Drilling Tel: 031 368 2265 www.ttdrilling.co.za
- Terratest Tel: 033 343 6789 www.terratest.co.za
- Topline Borehole Tel: 011 854 5500 / 021 556 5567 www.toplineboreholes.co.za
- Ubuntu Rock Drilling Tel: 012 940 4273 http://ubuntudrilling.co.za
- Umvoto Africa Tel: 021 709 6700 www.umvoto.com
- Villiers Aqua Engineering Tel: 058 821 0458
- Water Footprint Certification (WFC) Consultancy www.waterfootprint.co.za WFC certifies boreholes for water quality and quantity against drinking water standards (SANS 241:2006). The certificate issued can be used as a bank borehole certificate.
- WESST Consulting Services www.wesst.co.za Groundwater services
- WR Drilling Tel: 018 293 0442 www.wrdrilling.com
Included in the NERPO Financial Services’ Infrastructure fund is a credit line for emerging farmers to finance infrastructure developments like boreholes and windmills on their farms. Visit www.nerpo.org.za for more information.
Websites and publications
Refer to the websites listed earlier on this page.
- Find the many links on the Borehole Water Association (BWA) website, www.bwa.co.za. The BWA also puts out publications like a Membership Directory, the Borehole Water Journal and Groundwater: A Layman’s Guide To Borehole Ownership 2014/2015.
- Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the following publications, available from the ARC in Silverton: (i) Grondwatersensors (ii) Groundwater sensors.
- Nel, M. 2017. Groundwater: The myths, the truths and the basics. Pretoria: Water Research Commission. This and many other publications are available at www.wrc.org.za.
- The first quantitative continent-wide maps of aquifer storage and potential borehole yields in Africa based on an extensive review of available maps, publications and data were done in 2012. Find Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024009
- Find the article “Build your own windmill” at www.africanfarming.com/build-windmill/.
- Read about the various Water for Schools programmes that are run. A number of schools have had a borehole drilled to provide clean water for pupils – www.waterforschools.co.za.
- SADC Groundwater Management Institute http://sadc-gmi.org
- www.iah.org – International Association of Hydrogeologists, the worldwide groundwater organisation
- Find the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for drinking-water quality and other documents at www.wrc.org.za.
- Find the SA Boreholes Directory Portal at https://saboreholes.co.za
- Find the articles on the Borehole Water Association (BWA) website, www.bwa.co.za
- Groundwater extraction and the latest techniques and equipment used in this process are covered in Water & Sanitation Africa. Visit www.3smedia.co.za.
- Creamer Media Reporter. 2021, January 20. “Groundwater needs to be used wisely – Institute for Groundwater Studies”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/groundwater-needs-to-be-used-wisely—institute-for-groundwater-studies-2021-01-20
- Mahed, G. 2018, December 10. “Southern African nations need to up their groundwater management game”. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/southern-african-nations-need-to-up-their-groundwater-management-game-107614
Sources for the chapter: Southern Cross Industries, the Borehole Water Association
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