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City of CT warned not to rely heavily on ground water

The city is in the grips of the worst drought in decades and authorities are scrambling to ward off day zero - the day the taps run dry.

FILE: Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town on 30 October 2017. Photo: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Academics are warning authorities not to rely too heavily on ground water to address the water crisis in the city.

One of the city’s main plans to augment Cape Town's water supply is tapping the aquifers beneath the metro.

The city is in the grips of the worst drought in decades and authorities are scrambling to ward off day zero - the day the taps run dry.

Stellenbosch University’s Dr Jodie Miller says that taking too much water from the ground could create supply problems in future.

Miller says that without rain there’s no way the underground water can keep flowing.

“Every time you abstract ground water you are readjusting the balance within the groundwater system.”

University of Kansas's Professor Randy Stotler agrees. He points to a major US drought in the 50s where authorities drained the Ogallala aquifer.

The water bridged the gap but the negative effects of that decision are still being felt almost 70 years later.

“We put in far too many extraction wells and drew the water table down to the point that we lost surface flow in our streams and are now to the point where a lot of farmers are no longer able to use the resource for irrigation.”

The City of Cape Town is looking at drawing on the Table Mountain aquifer but they say they will not exhaust the resource.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)