Windhoek water crisis averted

The City of Windhoek spokesman, Joshua Amukugo, said this week that drilling for water in the Windhoek Aquifer will go ahead before the new year but even then the required minimum water saving of 30% will still have to be met.
Forward looking estimates show the Windhoek Aquifer has enough water to supply about half of the City’s needs for its population of just over 325,000 people and for its industries. But this is a short-term solution and is estimated to last only two to three years.
Amukugo said residents will have to continue putting up with water restrictions and save 40% since The Aegams reclamation works only provides 16% of water that is then mixed with the borehole source. Currently the water utility, NamWater only supplies 8 % of Windhoek’s water.
Between 2009 to 2011 and beyond, the aquifer has been kept as a viable backup taking into consideration the good rains received in 2011.
“Targets are set to establish access and install the needed abstraction equipment before the end of the year.” Amukugo said that this is by no means a long term solution and that active supply of bulk water from the aquifer contains upwards of 60% of the water needed with two mines contributing just over 10%. “Therefore, the residents should continue to conserve water as much as possible, because the required 40% water savings target is critical to us through to the next rainy season.”
The current strategy is to develop the aquifer as a full backup supply for emergencies after the drought and replenish the supplies as and when sufficient water is available.
“This will also greatly assist in the curbing of huge evaporation losses in the NamWater supply system” Amukugo said adding that the national water utility, NamWater, estimates that the aquifer’s capacity can only sustain the city for two to three years in the case of NamWater not being able to meet Windhoek’s water needs.
The City’s future critically depends on the Windhoek Aquifer as the only viable source to sustain the city through the current drought. Increasing the potential for abstraction from this source is seen as a future safeguard when the normal supply from NamWater fails.
“Given that the infrastructure can be put in place after the drought the current project will be extended to replenish the aquifer, provided that there is sufficient capacity in the supply dams,” Amukugo said.
Going into 2017, all supply dams are expected to be completely dry before the next rain season starts or before sufficient inflows are registered. “Given the current water crisis with the traditional supply system on the brink of failing, the supply to Windhoek is in a very precarious situation” he added.
Still a sharp decline in water savings was recorded for the previous week, where savings dropped drastically to 24% from 32%. The City of Windhoek speculates that this is due to media coverage on the drilling of the Windhoek Aquifer .
“This is by no means considered a sustainable supply solution and only implemented as an emergency action to fight the effects of the devastating drought currently experienced.” Amukogo said.
Rainfall forecasts by the Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre show expectations of above-normal rainfall for most of the period of October to December 2016 possibly even with cases of unlikely outcomes such as flash floods.