Owing to the role of groundwater resource development projects in the wider socioeconomic wellbeing of communities, consulting engineering company JG Afrika’s geohydrology technical director Mark Schapers says these projects are fast becoming a core part of the team’s business.
He explains that in-depth knowledge is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of groundwater projects, which, while relying on political endorsement, depend on a technical and scientific approach in conception and implementation.
“Our team conducts technical requirements and deliverables to the highest levels possible. Also, a value-added approach, whereby the team consciously invests in awareness creation, and promotion of beneficiary buy-in at a water resource project, as well as client support, which includes awareness of groundwater as a resource, are some of the points of focus for the team.”
Schapers adds that this holistic perspective has always been a signature trait of groundwater projects undertaken by JG Afrika and is one of the reasons the company was appointed by independent project and construction services consultancy Ramgoolam Group as the professional geohydrologist for Phase II of the Department of Education’s (DoE’s) Water and Sanitation in Schools Programme, targeting the rural areas of the Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal.
“We can’t expect learners to excel in an environment that [lacks] the most basic services. Water and sanitation rank right near the top, with electricity an equally hot contender,” Schapers explains, adding that the rural areas are being targeted for these projects, as they were poorly serviced in the past.
The project, which is being driven by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works on behalf of the provincial DoE, appears to be the forerunner of a host of similar interventions that will significantly improve access to water and sanitation for learners in remote areas of the province.
“The project is now officially addressing Phase II of the water and sanitation project roll-out, and is not set to be completed in the near future, as it is dependent on future funding allocations,” he explains, adding that the phase is set for a “fast-track” intervention.
Schapers further explains that JG Afrika applies a methodological approach to its projects, starting with thorough desktop studies and the detailed planning of activities up to the completion of comprehensive feasibility studies for clients.
This systematic approach is then applied to all activities on site, including drilling, yield testing and equipping of the boreholes, which includes implementation of strict measures to avoid contamination of exposed groundwater resources.
“The wealth of experience that JG Afrika’s geohydrologists have acquired over the years, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, augurs well for the management of this complex water and sanitation project.”
In February, JG Afrika acquired Geowater IQ, which Schapers believes significantly bolsters JG Afrika’s existing capabilities in groundwater infrastructure.
Schapers concludes that the company’s role in “demystifying the hidden water resource” and in bringing a sustainable water supply to the surface, ensures that it is ready to participate in the steady and growing pipeline of related work that emerges as African policymakers continue to prioritise access to groundwater supply.