Do I need permission for a borehole? Is a borehole an asset? What can borehole water be used for? When considering a borehole for domestic or agricultural purposes, many Cape Townians are curious to know the answers to these questions. Our Water Utility Solutions experts explain the basics and the benefits of this incredible alternative water source

Borehole Permissions

Technically, a license is never required for a borehole or pump but each one must be registered with the City of Cape Town municipality. Licensing dictates the permissible use of the groundwater to which you have legal access. For most residential applications, the use of the groundwater won’t require any licensing because it will most likely fall under Schedule 1 as defined in the National Water Act of 1998.

Untreated borehole water is ideal for irrigating non-edible vegetation but can be treated to be safe for vegetable patches

Untreated borehole water is ideal for irrigating non-edible vegetation but can be treated to be safe for vegetable patches.

Schedule 1 use of groundwater is considered that which is for “(i) reasonable domestic use; (ii) small gardening not for commercial purposes; and (iii) the watering of animals (excluding feedlots) which graze on that land within the grazing capacity of that land”. Should you wish to install a borehole for use in a body corporate, industrial or agricultural environment, different scheduling and licensing will apply. It’s always best to consult with accredited experts for your specific scenario.

Borehole Operation

Borehole pumps operate with (usually) an electric motor which drives a shaft attached to impellers. The impellers generate suction and “pull” the water against gravity until it’s available for you to treat, store, or use. These pumps exist in many different configurations depending on the needs of the end user. Horizontal, vertical, and subterranean pump configurations are also possible.

This borehole pump cross sectional diagram demonstrates the basic functional components.

This pump cross sectional diagram demonstrates the basic functional components including impellers.

Groundwater & Aquifer Responsibility

The Borehole Water Association of South Africa and the World Health Organisation have provided accepted procedures and standards for the drilling of boreholes. Additionally, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) states that necessary precautions must be taken to prevent surface water from entering the borehole. This is important because surface water re-entering the shaft can lead to aquifer pollution and the contamination of groundwater. Installing a concrete sanitary seal is one way of doing this. Additionally, if the groundwater is not being adequately treated for drinking purposes, it’s vitally important to mark all outlets (taps etc.) as not suitable for consumption. When it comes to alternative water sources, it’s always best to consult with accredited WUS experts to ensure all responsible measures are in place.


Borehole Benefits

  1. Reduce reliance on municipal water 
  2. Lower water utility bills 
  3. Highly reliable if installed correctly
  4. Suitable for domestic use (both non-potable and potable if treated correctly)
  5. Independent of municipal water interruptions
  6. Last 10-15 years if properly installed and maintained

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