As climate change continues to take its toll on earth and the freshwater above the ground, it becomes critical to harvest the water underground to sustain life.
The more cities continue to expand outside traditional limits, the more water boreholes become more prevalent to supplement municipal supply or serve as a primary water source.
There is a lot that goes into drilling and owning a water borehole. You must first familiarize yourself with the processes and the pros and cons of boreholes.
What Is A Water Borehole And How Does It Work?
A water borehole is a narrow opening drilled either vertically into the ground to get water. It is access to underground water.
Water found in boreholes primarily comes from rainwater that seeps through multiple layers of rock and soil and settles on the water table. Other sources include rivers and dam leaks.
An installed water pump draws water from the water table and channels it via a pipe to the surface. A borehole has a filter at the bottom to remove sand or other solid materials in the water.
What Is The Process For Installing A Borehole?
If you are interested in installing a borehole, there are several aspects and essential things to consider and planning to be done.
First, you should consider your location. Location is by far the most important because your success majorly depends on it.
Once you are confident that your site is suitable, you may need to get a permit depending on your locality.
Borehole Site Survey
Locations close to septic tanks, waste disposal from factories, or anything else that might pollute underground water, are not suitable.
Hire a professional such as a hydrogeologist to conduct a site survey and help you determine your location's suitability.
A hydrogeologist will establish whether your site will provide water in the required quantity and quality.
After assessing your site, the hydrogeologist will give you recommendations, such as the drilling depth, pumps to use and casing materials.
However, the final decision lies with you.
Borehole Drilling & Construction
After you select the drilling site, get quotations from a variety of licensed borehole contractors.
Your hydrogeologist can also help by giving you recommendations. Choose one that fits your profile and let them start drilling.
The contractor uses a rotating pipe that has a hammer and a drill. The hammer and the drill break up rocks and while going underground.
The drilling continues until the required depth is reached. Once this is achieved, the rubble is removed, and then a steel casing is installed in the hole from top to bottom.
You will require a pump and pipes to get the water from the borehole to your home or place of use. Most drilling companies offer these in addition to drilling services.
Note: You hire a drilling contractor to drill at the required depth and not to find the water.
Borehole Yield & Water Quality Testing
A pumping test will be done to determine the yield of the borehole. This test will help to determine the size of pipes to install.
Pumping or aquifer test involves pumping water from the borehole for a specified amount of time (yield) to measure the lowering of the water level in the borehole (abstraction rate).
An alternative test is the blow yield. The disadvantage of the blow yield test is that it is not as accurate as the aquifer test.
Test pumping for a specified amount of time is required to determine the accurate yield and remove debris from the borehole.
Testing of the borehole water quality is the next crucial stage. Chemical analysis should be done to determine if the water is safe for drinking and domestic use.
A test report will detail the water quality and any remedies required, such as disinfection and removal of mineral components.
Pump & Filter Installation
Once health experts have determined that the water is suitable for usage, you proceed to the ultimate stage, accessing the water from your borehole.
Data gathered from the aquifer test is vital at this stage to aid in selecting the right pump and filter. Your drilling contractor should be able to advise you and give you recommendations.
The type of pump and filters also depend on your water usage; it can either be an electrical pump or a hand pump. For any electrical installation, get a qualified electrician.
Borehole Maintenance & Care
Proper maintenance of your borehole will determine how long it will last. If you maintain and care for it regularly, then it will serve you for years.
There are a number of common faults that will affect the flow and quality of your borehole water, such as mechanical blockage caused by soil build-up, chemical build-up, and bacterial infection.
Seek the services of a professional to check and ensure that your entire water system is working properly.
Below are some of the ways to care for and maintain your borehole;
- Protect the hole and don’t let any impurities like pesticides, fertilizer or oil enter.
- Regular testing of water quality for any changes in taste and/or water level.
- Regular cleaning of the pumping system and filters
- The borehole should be cleaned and disinfected
- Drain all the water in the borehole and remove sediments and debris
Pros And Cons Of Boreholes
Similar to any other source of water, water boreholes also have their advantages and disadvantages.
#1. Saving on cost- the initial investment and maintenance are the only costs you are likely to incur. However, you will realise that you won’t be paying as much compared to when paying monthly bills and limiting your water usage in the long term.
With a water borehole, you can use as much water as you want without caring about the bill.
#2. Consistent Water supply– no more water shortage or begging your municipality to restore water due to water rationing or unpaid bills. A water borehole gives you a consistent and unlimited water supply.
#3. Make money– you can also decide to sell your borehole water to other households or property within your area. The money will help with maintenance costs.
#4. Increase in property value– water is a necessity, and with a borehole, a constant supply is guaranteed. The presence of a water borehole makes your property more valuable, especially during droughts.
#1. Environmental impact– drilling a water borehole affects the environment and the area where the holes are dug. Especially if several boreholes have been drilled around the same place.
However, the impact on the environment can be lessened by using environmental controls and policies.
#2. Water contamination- groundwater may contain harmful bacteria and other impurities like iron. This will make the water unsafe for drinking, and it will have to be treated first.
#3. High Initial Cost– the process of drilling a water borehole will require hiring professionals at different stages.
Site survey, drilling the ground, depth of the boreholes, installing pumps, filters and pipes, and water treatment are crucial aspects that will require advice and recommendations from industry experts. Getting the expert's services won’t be cheap.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does It Cost To Bore Water In South Africa?
The cost will depend on various factors such as the drilling depth, materials used, the ground to be drilled, water pump, and the drilling process.
Every bore water has varying costs, so it’s prudent to work with estimates. Consult widely and get quotations from a variety of qualified industry experts.
Do You Need To Register A Borehole?
Depends on where you are drilling a borehole. Some municipalities require you to register, and some don’t. Check with your local authorities to find out.
Some areas even require authorization from environmental agencies in addition to the local permit.
Can Borehole Water Run Out?
No, it's a rare scenario for borehole water to run out. However, the water level can reduce due to drought, sediment and mineral build-up and water pump placement.
All these can be corrected with care and maintenance.
Is Groundwater As Clean And Pure (Drinkable) As Surface Water?
More often than not, groundwater is clean and pure, especially in rural areas. However, the water may be polluted with chemicals, bacteria and sediments. Therefore, water testing is required to determine if it’s drinkable or suitable for domestic use.
Should You Always Use The Services Of A Professional geohydrologist?
Yes. A geohydrologist will increase your chances of success when selecting a water borehole location and give expert recommendations on the processes, pumping system to install, and materials to use.
Hiring a geohydrologist will also cut down on costs.
Owning a water borehole may seem like a tedious and complicated process. However, consulting industry experts and professionals makes it easier.
Hiring professionals for the job will ensure your boreholes last 20-30 years. The initial cost may be high, but ultimately, the benefits far outweigh the cons.
You also help your municipalities by reducing the strain on their water supply.