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To drill or not to drill

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Is it really worth getting a borehole and what damage is being done to our environment? This is a controversial subject, but, as many South Africans have experienced over the last few years with severe drought starting in the Free State, moving further north through Gauteng up to the Limpopo province and now back to the Western Cape, it has become somewhat of a necessity to look at alternative methods of sourcing water.

While South Africa used to have consistent seasonal rainfall it was okay to store water in man-made dams, but as the global climate has changed and we have had inconsistent rainfall, more and more people are sinking boreholes into an already unstable water source.


The gardening you need to get done before summer is officially here


To understand the potentially controversial side of this phenomenon it is important to understand how the borehole process works: You first have to get a water diviner who does scientific geological and geophysical measurements, then you get a drilling company to do the drilling where the water diviner suggested you sink the borehole. Once the drilling has been done and water is found you will get irrigation and water tank specialists in to help store the water. Based on where the diviner said the fracture in the rock is this is where you may find water.

Important! There is no guarantee of finding water and every time you sink a new hole it costs an additional charge. Depending on the depth this could cost a couple hundred thousand rand, if not more.

Based on this, and keeping in mind the fact that we have had less rainfall, and thus this means less water soaking into the ground, surely the increased number of boreholes also has a negative effect on our water table.

Yes, having a borehole does assist with watering crops, irrigating gardens, providing water for livestock as well as a few households and yes, the water does soak back into the ground, but when using irrigation methods, a lot of the water is lost via evaporation. When taking more and more water off the water table this means less water flowing into our natural springs rivers.

If you are thinking about getting a borehole system I would recommend that you look at getting a rainwater harvesting system but ensure that you have large enough tanks to store the water as well as a borehole storage tank and inter link them, thus you will be able to store maximum yields of water from different sources. If you have the space I would also recommend making small catchment ponds/dams to store excess water run off that can be pumped, and the water re-used.

Top tip: I have connected my roof gutters to my swimming pool so that the extra rain water is stored and thus helps with filling of my pool.

If you already have a borehole installed and would like to save water where possible it is important to irrigate at the right times so that less evaporation occurs.

Set your irrigation when there is least evaporation rate; if it has been a hot day I would only irrigate when the ground temperature starts to cool down at around 7pm thus the water soaks in faster and does not evaporate this applies for the summer months, in winter I would irrigate between 8am and 11am.

Four clever ways to save water:

#1 Put a lining on top of your swimming pool this will stop evaporation.

#2 Plant indigenous water wise plants on the hot sides in your garden.

#3 Install jojo tanks that will collect rain water off your gutters.

#4 Assess where water run off flows through your property, maybe add a catchment dam or pond or re-use your household grey water.

I hope these tips help you to make the decision about installing a borehole, if you are unsure please send us an email and we will gladly assist you with your garden watering requirements.


Got a burning question? E-mail mariette@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist


Who is Nicholas Spargo?

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.

Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.

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