South Africa

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There are a large number of references available on the hydrogeology of South Africa. Many of these describe aspects of geology and geomorphology that inform hydrogeological conditions in South Africa. Groundwater resources were originally studied by the hydrogeologists of the Geological Survey, latterly the Council for Geosciences. However, DWAF and the WRC and to a lesser extent the CSIR have produced major studies of groundwater conditions in South Africa, with DWAF holding the main database.


There are 571 references available. Currently 122 of these are available to download in PDF format.

Key References


Brown (1877) provides an in-depth description of water resource development in the constituent parts of pre-Union South Africa during the latter half of the 19th century. Vegter (2001) in his historical review of the development of the groundwater resources of South Africa draws heavily upon descriptions of groundwater resources presented in area geological memoirs by field mapping geologists of the various province geological surveys. These included the Department of Agriculture of the Cape of Good Hope and the Transvaal Mines Department that were latterly amalgamated to form the Geological Survey of the Union of South Africa. Specific groundwater related reports produced included: Memoir No. 34: The water-bearing properties of the more important geological formations in the Union of South Africa by Frommurze (1937) and Memoir No. 41: A hydrochemical survey of the underground water supplies of the Union of South Africa by Bond (1945). Du Toit (1954) includes a section on groundwater occurrence in his description of the geology of South Africa.

Prior to the 1970's much borehole drilling in rural areas had been undertaken by the Department of Irrigation or privately by individual farmers. Responsibility for groundwater assessment pasded from the Geological Survey to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) who from the 1970's undertook studies of groundwater occurrence at provincial level. BGS staff undertook joint studies of the impact of drought upon groundwater systems with DWAF in the Limpopo Region during 1996-97 following the disastrous 1991-92 drought. BGS staff latterly accumulated hydrogeological information on the Limpopo basin and South Africa as a whole during its involvement with the SADC Regional Assessment study of drought and groundwater management (2005) and the SADC Regional Strategic Water Infrstructure Development Project (2007). Much information in the form of reports and maps were obtained from project colleagues based at DWAF, the Water Resources Commission (WRC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.