Portland High became the latest school to have its own borehole sunk last week.
And plans are under way to have the water tested to determine if it is drinkable and to construct a wetlands to help purify the water.
Gift of the Givers Foundation, the largest disaster response non-government organisation of African origin on the continent, had been directed by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), to help the school access borehole water and secure its water supply so that was was less dependent on the City of Cape Town’s municipal supply.
Hydrologist, geologist and paleontologist, Dr Gideon Groenewald, who is supervising the drilling process for the Foundation, told the Plainsman on Thursday March 8 that this valuable renewable natural resource was unfortunately as dependent on constant recharge from good rainfall as a normal surface reservoirs, such as the Theewaterskloof Dam.
“It is therefore of paramount importance that scientists, called geologists, do very careful calculations to not over-utilise this God-given resource in Cape Town,” he said.
Dr Groenewald said pupils should understand where the water came from and how much of it was available.
He said the water could either be drunk or flushed down the toilet.
“We don’t have to have that water running away into a waste disposal site or a sewage system,” he said.
The plan is to divert that water into a wetland system, which will be a long-term project, of up to 20 years.
He said Cape Town faced another three and half years of drought.
“Even if I’m gone, my son will take over because he is studying the same thing as I am doing,” he said.
Dr Groenewald said the possibilities were endless and the community could also cultivate a vegetable patch, which could feed most of the pupils and their families.
He said the borehole could sustain pupils coming to school with a 5-litre bottle and returning home with as many bottles filled with water.
“We want to achieve an awareness among pupils that there is a multitude of people trying solve the dire need for water.
“We want the children involved in groundwater management,” he said.
The foundation confirmed that the water would be tested by the Breede Valley municipality for free. This testing usually cost around R16 000.
Principal Ridwaan Williams said they were very grateful for the opportunity, after they approached the WCED last year. He said they had been despondent when they were quoted just under R500 000 for the project.
The foundation has now funded its own borehole drilling rig at a cost of R2.5 million, to expedite the search for water in areas of great need in South Africa.
Mr Williams said the borehole had been a suggestion from the pupils and that they had seen a drop in water consumption at the school.
“I think the more the pupils are involved in the project the more successful it will be,” he said.
Farieda Moses, Portland High School’s school governing body chairwoman, said the borehole would be of great benefit to the pupils and the community.
Late last month, the foundation also struck water at Peak View High School, in Bridgetown Athlone.
Ali Sablay, from the foundation’s Cape Town office, said they had another three schools lined up for boreholes.