Windhoek plans to tap into aquifer
The City of Windhoek plans to tap into the Windhoek aquifer as the rest of the central region is rushing into severe water distress which the national water utility, NamWater, indicated will become a reality later this year in August.
NamWater hydrologist, Andre Mostert said a week ago during a media visit to Swakoppoort Dam west of Okahandja, NamWater’s ability to supply the City of Windhoek with water will be severely diminished by August this year.
The City of Windhoek, however, is painfully aware of the national water utility’s predicament, indicating this week that it will have to increase extraction from the Windhoek aquifer by drilling more boreholes and expanding the reticulation network in planned stages between now and the end of next year. Similarly, the City is looking for capital investment to improve the output of reclaimed water from the Gammams Water Works.
Acting City spokesperson Scheifert Shigwedha responded to enquiries from the Economist this week, laying out the City of Windhoek’s planned activities. “The City of Windhoek is hard at work towards the establishment of suitable financial and organisational structures to minimise the capital burden on the organisation and to allow for early implementation and cost recovery over the usable period of the Gammams plant. This include the sourcing of possible grant funding and long term loans on favourable terms affordable to residents.”
“Capital investment into the water and waste water sector remains a priority focus area. Given ever increasing shortcomings on the supply side from NamWater and the current drought the City of Windhoek is investing heavily into infrastructure that could be used to augment the supply from NamWater now and in the foreseeable future. This include both the development of the well field for immediate use and [to expand] future re-use schemes. All of these require large capital investments to implement. Current investment into the well field to aid in the water crisis is in excess of N$125 million” explained Shigwedha.
He also referred the Economist to the City of Windhoek’s monthly Aloe newsletter which he said would give a detailed explanation of the planned activities the municipality would undertake to mitigate the probable risk of a water shortage for its residents.
The City of Windhoek has put in place an emergency water supply project that forms part of its initiative started in 2015 to accelerate the implementation of the Windhoek Managed Aquifer Recharge Scheme (WMARS) to its full design potential. The primary objective of the WMARS is to increase the internal long-term sustainable water supply capacity of the City by injecting water into an aquifer during times of high rainfall and abstract it under controlled conditions during times of drought. The aquifer allows for long term safekeeping of water with limits of losses to approximately 5% compared to conventional dams with losses up to 50%, an excerpt from the newsletter reads.
Aloe also states that the City of Windhoek through the Windhoek Managed Aquifer Recharge System, will drill twelve additional deep-well boreholes, as well as lay collector pipelines from boreholes to the south and east of the City, while a pipeline connecting the southern boreholes to the City’s water supply network is set to come to project completion circa September 2017. The three dams supplying Windhoek and the rest of the central area consist of Omatako, von Bach and the Swakoppoort dam. These are expected to run dry by June 2017 if a 25% water savings is not achieved, NamWater announced last week. Currently, water saving targets are not achieved, a situation the utility said is worrisome and adding to the water shortage.