Why is groundwater monitoring important?
Groundwater is a vital water resource that is more frequently being used to meet domestic, agricultural, industrial, and environmental water demands. There are numerous objectives when monitoring groundwater, some of which include: characterising the groundwater system to understand seasonal responses, estimating potential for groundwater development, evaluating or mitigating impacts of groundwater abstraction on the environment (springs, rivers, wetlands) and other users as well as determining contamination impacts and remediation solutions. The aim is to achieve sustainable aquifer management, wise water use and legislative compliance through robust implementation of IWRM principles.
Implementation of groundwater monitoring
Umvoto has extensive experience in water resource monitoring and conjunctive use as demonstrated and applied in various projects such as Overstrand Local Municipality Groundwater Management, City of Cape Town New Water Programme and Groundwater Resource Assessment and Monitoring.
Groundwater monitoring includes but is not limited to measurement and interpretation of groundwater levels, groundwater quality, water quantity (abstraction/recharge) and hydroclimate.
- Water levels are measured to monitor changes in the water table/potentiometric surface in response to seasonal variation (rainfall and recharge), groundwater abstraction or Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). Water levels can be measured manually using a dip meter or recorded using automated sensors and telemetry.
- Hydroclimate monitoring includes measuring rainfall and evapotranspiration as these are major inputs to water balances and when combined with water levels implications of recharge can be deduced. Rain gauges are used to record rainfall either by automated weather stations or manually.
- Water quantity (abstraction) is monitored to avoid over abstraction and to promote compliance thereby ensuring sustainable aquifer management. Abstraction volumes are recorded by flow meters where readings can be recorded manually or recorded automatically.
- Water quality sampling is conducted to characterise groundwater types, inform potential uses, establish treatment requirements or evaluate and mitigate contamination. Understanding the geology, land use and intended water uses are useful when selecting parameters for analysis at an accredited laboratory. Groundwater samples can be retrieved using point source bailers, discrete interval samplers or pumps (low flow, bladder, production etc.).
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Student (Seemole Sergio Shika) using a dip metre to measure water levels as part of his job shadow training sponsored by The Umvoto Foundation.
Umvoto staff members Magen Munnik (left), Shaakirah Adams (centre) and Rebecca Stephenson (right) recording water level measurements as part of the City of Cape Town New Water Programme.