The development potential of Kwazulu-Natal aquifers for rural water supply

King, Georgina (1997) The development potential of Kwazulu-Natal aquifers for rural water supply. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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The supply of water to 'disadvantaged' areas of KwaZulu-Natal has in the past received low priority. Local government is now faced with supplying water to large, sometimes dispersed, rural populations. Groundwater has been utilised informally as a water supply for some years, but the impetus provided by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry's White Paper has compelled those responsible for water supply to seriously consider groundwater as a sustainable option. The development potential or success of groundwater in its role as a reliable water supply is dependent on acceptance of the resource by the communities, appropriate level of service, yield sustainability and safe quality. Apart from the social aspects, the yield and groundwater quality characteristics of the aquifers under consideration must be used to determine the best hydrogeological features to target during exploration. A total of 993 borehole records, from a recent government drought relief programme, were used to compare the yield, water quality and best geophysical exploration and drilling techniques of the main hydrolithologies in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The results of comparative analysis shows that the competent rocks of the Natal Group and Natal Metamorphic Province and the karstic Uloa Formation of the Maputaland Group have the best overall potential for water supply. The unconsolidated sediments of the Maputaland Group also have good potential, but have some salinity problems. The Karoo Supergroup sediments and volcanics have moderate potential, with the argillaceous rocks having the worst potential of the Karoo rocks. The contacts between the Ecca Group shales and sandstone have the best potential of the Karoo Supergroup sedimentary hydrolithologies. Fractures clearly enhance the groundwater potential of most hydrolithologies, with fractured Dwyka Group tillites rated as having one of the best development potentials of all the hydrogeological targets in KwaZulu-Natal, despite the hydrolithology's poor water-bearing characteristics. Dolerite contacts with sedimentary rocks are commonly targeted features in groundwater development. However, the results from this research showed that, apart from the Natal Group's contact with dolerite, these targets have poor development potential. In general, contacts between different hydro lithologies. Health related quality was found to be adversely affected in argillaceous hydrolithologies, such as the majority of Karoo rocks which had high levels of sodium and chloride and Natal Metamorphic Province schists which had elevated sodium, chloride and fluoride. Crystalline and arenaceous hydrolithologies generally exhibited good quality groundwater. A comparison between the different geophysical methods for each target feature indicates that there are appropriate methods to use to detect anomalies related to water-bearing features. The large number of dry boreholes drilled in locations with recorded geophysical anomalies can be either a function of the water-bearing characteristics of the formation, human error or background noise. The cost of using the different geophysical methods vary considerably. The order of increasing cost is magnetics, VLF, EM-34, electrical resistivity profiling followed by vertical electrical sounding. Drilling has a large influence on the development potential of certain aquifers due to the high costs involved. Most of the secondary aquifers will require percussion drilling which is the cheapest method of drilling commonly used. Some very unstable formations within fractured or highly weathered rock may need ODEX drilling to enable drilling to advance. ODEX drilling in these conditions is very costly and can double the cost of drilling compared to air percussion. The unconsolidated sediments of the Maputaland Group can only be drilled by mud rotary or ODEX techniques. The relative costs of these two methods arer very similar with ODEX being slightly cheaper. Because of the high expense of drilling in the sands it is recommended that alternative sources, possibly from shallow hand-dug wells, be considered as appropriate methods of accessing groundwater. The aspects of groundwater yield and quality of aquifers, appropriate geophysical siting and drilling methods, together with social considerations will all contribute to the success of groundwater development in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Water supply, Disadvantaged areas, KwaZulu-Natal, Access, Groundwater, Communities, Aquifiers, Hydrogeological features, Exploration, Boreholes, Drilling, Yield, Dolorite contacts, Health, Quality, Cost, ODEX drilling, Wells
Subjects:Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Geology
Supervisors:Sami, K. and Jacobs, R.
ID Code:3763
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:23 Oct 2012 12:10
Last Modified:23 Oct 2012 12:10
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