Hydrogeological map launched

12 October 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected]

The minister of agriculture, water and land reform says that, in his opinion, a total ban on prospecting and mining activities should be placed on the vulnerable Stampriet aquifer.
“Exploration in the aquifer should be considered very carefully. According to available information, the source was already exposed to significant risks during the exploration phase, as well as during the extraction phase.”
Minister Calle Schlettwein said this on Friday at the launch of the third edition of Namibia's hydrogeological map, in response to journalists’ questions about plans for a uranium mine in the Leonardville area and its impact on that aquifer.
“The fact is, there is mining inside the aquifer and seepage is already taking place. The polluted water is released inside the aquifer. We believe there is a significant risk of seepage and pollution, depending on where the boreholes are sunk and how far the water extends. We believe this aquifer is far too valuable for the entire Kalahari community for us to take risks that could completely destroy it or restrict its use,” he said.
Schlettwein added that Namibia should, as the driest country south of the Sahara, declare certain zones and certain groundwater reservoirs as protected areas. “It would be foolish if we allowed commercial activities to threaten it. Mining within an aquifer should be carefully considered and probably completely banned - especially if these minerals are also available elsewhere. We should react quickly and effectively, before damage is done. The prospecting within an aquifer is not sustainable. There are areas where little water is available, so it is very valuable and there must be rules for its use."

At the forefront
The map of Namibia's underground water resources, which also shows how vulnerable the various resources are, to what extreme water is extracted, what the quality of the water is, and how quickly and efficiently it is refilled, is the third edition and contains the latest data sets about this.
It is available online (www.na-mis.com) as well as in textbook form.
Schlettwein said it was a vital collection of geohydrological information and its launch puts Namibia in a leading position on the continent in terms of national water management.
He says Namibia is also taking the lead on the continent with the reuse of grey water.
“Furthermore, the country is also setting the tone by artificially replenishing underground water sources such as the Windhoek aquifer in times when dams are full.”
Schlettwein said that according to the latest data, 60% of all water used in Namibia comes from groundwater.

Updated
He says the map and textbook were first published in December 2001 and then again ten years later in 2011. “As the custodian of underground water resources in Namibia, the ministry has decided to issue an updated version, which is used everywhere for the management of underground water.
“The review process involved using the latest, updated geological data and groundwater data from recent projects.”
He said the ministry had used money made available by the SADC Institute for Underground Water Management (SADC-GMI) for this.
Schlettwein said that in addition to the fact that the map can now serve as a resource for national development planning, it also offers researchers the opportunity to determine where further research is needed and where further exploration work can be done.

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