Cape Town Students to Embark On Project To Help Solve Water Crisis

File Photo: Independent Media


Cape Town – Three Stellenbosch University (SU) students have embarked on a crowd-funding initiative in an effort to raise awareness on the sustainability of groundwater resources.

MSc student Jared van Rooyen and fellow BSc Honours students Yaa Agyare-Dwomoh and Zita Harilall aim to raise R200 000 for their research project.

The Know Your Water campaign will raise the funds needed to collect rainfall and groundwater samples across the country.

SU’s isotope geochemist and project leader, Dr Jodie Miller, said the aim of the project was to show how regularly groundwater gets recharged while also determining whether it is a renewable resource or not.

“With this project, we want to develop a model to map the distribution of renewable groundwater. With this information, we can avoid exploitation and rather use this important resource in a sustainable manner.

“The modelling of groundwater resources is not a new thing. But because South Africa is geologically very complex, we need more site-specific data to accurately model what is happening to our groundwater in different catchments.”

The team plans to use tritium (3H), the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, to determine when water that enters the groundwater system was last in contact with the atmosphere.

“The longer groundwater is isolated from the atmosphere, the lower the tritium concentration. By knowing the concentration of tritium in rainfall and the concentration in a groundwater reservoir, we can predict how regularly the water is being recharged,” she said.

Van Rooyen said he was excited about the opportunity to participate in solving the country’s water crisis. The team leaves for its three-week fact-finding mission on March 19.


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