Fluoride Action Network

Pumping the Ohangwena aquifer’s reserves

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia | July 10th, 2017
Location: Namibia

Eenhana-The estimated volumes of water in the Ohangwena aquifer have ballooned to 20 billion cubic metres, from the earlier estimates of 5 billion cubic metres.

The aquifer is currently supplying 40 cubic metres of water per hour to Eenhana through three boreholes. The agriculture ministry is now looking at extending water provision to areas of Epembe, Oshikunde and Okongo in eastern Ohangwena. These areas currently have no access to piped water and are in dire need of potable water. This was revealed by the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Abraham Nehemia, who was happy with the progress in work done on the aquifer.

“We will ensure that Oshikunde, Epembe will get water from this aquifer, depending on available resources,” said Nehemia.

Nehemia said although the quality of the aquifer water is good it is unfortunately rich in fluoride that will require the ministry to also put up desalination plants in areas where more boreholes would be drilled – to ensure that such water is fit for human consumption.

At present, the water to Eenhana is used concurrently with pipeline water to desalinate the high-fluoride aquifer water. It is pumped through three boreholes that were drilled at a cost of N$2.6 million each between late last year and May this year.

In 2013 it was estimated that the Ohangwena aquifer has 5 billion cubic metres of water.
Studies on the aquifer, which commenced in 2013, will be ongoing to determine how the aquifer will react once large volumes of water are extracted.

Currently, water extracted from the aquifer is only for human and livestock consumption but not for larger scale usage.

Martin Quinger, a representative of the company doing the technical work, Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschften and Rohstoffe (BGR), said the aquifer stretches about 200 kilometres into Angola with most of the recharging also done in Angola.

Quinger said 80 percent of water from the aquifer comes from Angola.
Nehemia said the Angolan and Namibian governments have established the Cuvelai Water Commission to ensure that the agreement of extracting water from the aquifer is in compliance with SADC protocol on shared watercourses.

While there is a dire need in eastern Ohangwena, several boreholes were drilled during the drought last year, but have not had installation work done.

But Nehemia assured that the process of installation has already commenced in the Zambezi and Kunene regions and will be done in other regions.

However, he appealed to the regions with uninstalled boreholes to identify critically-hit areas as the budget may not allow for all the boreholes to be installed.

During the remaining implementation years of the Harambee Prosperity Plan the water ministry is mandated to provide water to citizens.

“It will be that the whole work will not be completed in the next five years, but we must start and have some work done in supplying the community with water,” said Nehemia.

Through a cabinet committee established last year, the ministry was mandated to ensure that Windhoek does not run dry.

“But should there have been no interventions Windhoek would have run dry before the rainy season,” said Nehemia.

Other critical areas identified to be rescued and to ensure water security were the coastal regions followed by the north-central areas, which include Ohangwena Region.

*Original article online at https://www.newera.com.na/2017/07/10/pumping-the-ohangwena-aquifers-reserves/