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In recent years, the need for water in South Africa has increased beyond freshwater surface water; enter the increased need for borehole water. With water shortages, droughts and furthermore an increase in the population – we have now realised the need for water and also alternative water supplies to feed the high demand for water. We would expect things to improve as we enter the rainy season. The only problem is that the rainfall doesn’t always result in a significant increase in freshwater dam levels, as the levels are the lowest experienced in many years. Therefore looking at alternative water sources is vital to the survival of residents, as well as the farming industry.

Let’s take a deeper look at borehole water, the disadvantages as well as the benefits thereof.

What are water boreholes and bore water?

Water boreholes are how you access pure and natural underground water. It is a small open, narrow shaft that is drilled vertically or horizontally into the ground to provide access to water. When it rains, and water seeps down through layers of soil and rock, this is known as groundwater. Other sources that contribute to bore water would be creeks, dams and rivers.

Advantages of boreholes and bore water

Having access to a borehole or bore water is a very affordable option per capita. It is arguably the cheapest way to deliver water to homes or crops. Once a borehole has been dug it can be used endlessly for all water needs, while there is sufficient groundwater. Furthermore, it’s a safe alternative source of water. In normal conditions, groundwater that is tapped is safe and pure enough for domestic and certain agricultural use (limited) but may need some form of purification. It is always advisable to have a new source of bore water tested before use.

Bore water is suitable for domestic non-potable uses such as toilet flushing, car and clothes washing as well as wetting of grass, gardens and even crops. Bore water is a terrific way of decreasing your municipal water usage from a tap – limiting that use to cooking, drinking and bathing.

Disadvantages of boreholes and bore water

A significant downside to boreholes is the impact on the immediate environment where it is dug, but this can be negated through effective environmental controls.
Groundwater is found far below the surface, but it can still be affected by contaminants. When there is a high level of contamination in any location in the area near the bore water, it is likely that the water will be affected.

A disadvantage to using borehole water is that you cannot use this for every form of consumption such as cooking, water edible vegetables and drinking. This cannot be done straight from the source due to the possibility of contaminants. As a result, the water needs to be tested and a water purification system installed which increases costs.

One other problem is that with a drastic increase in boreholes it does decrease the water table which will have an environmental impact in the long run.

Can bore water be purified?

It is possible to purify borehole water by putting the water through a testing process and installing the correct purification system. This will then make the borehole water suitable for drinking as well as irrigation.

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