7.7 Evaluation and Way Ahead

This semi-arid area supports mainly sheep and goat farming and is sparsely populated. The scheme meets the community needs and demonstrates the value of opportunistic artificial recharge in semi-arid areas, even if it is only practiced on a small scale.

The scheme is ingenious in its simplicity. “All it involves is taking some of the river flow when it rains, draining it through a sand filter in the river bed, and then gravity-feeding it into a borehole,” says Dr. Murray. “There are no pumping costs, and the maintenance costs – merely removing debris and clay from the sand filter between injection runs – are insignificant. It’s almost crazy not to do it, because it’s so cheap and simple.” Cheap and simple it may be, but the recharge is potentially enough to double the sustainable yield of the borehole. An added advantage is that it improves water quality significantly.

The scheme received praise at both the local level and at the highest international level:

  • Dr. Ricky Murray, champion of MAR in South Africa and beyond: “Groundwater in Namaqualand is generally quite saline, and the injection of freshwater dilutes it. We got feedback from the residents of Kharkams that this is the best water they’ve ever had!”
  • Dr. Peter Dillon, Chairman of the International Association of Hydrogeologists’ Commission on Managing Aquifer Recharge: judged the Kharkams scheme an “unqualified success”. “This is a low-cost technology and will be of great value in achieving South Africa’s plan for enhancing water supplies to rural and remote communities.” (Water Wheel, 2003).


Managed Aquifer Recharge: Southern Africa Copyright © 2021 by Eberhard Braune and Sumaya Israel. All Rights Reserved.