Paper No. 27-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
SURFACE AND GROUNDWATER RESEARCH IN SOUTH AFRICA: AN UNDERGRADUATE CLASS EXPERIENCE
A group of young students were engaged in researching into some of South Africa’s water problems. Being a semi-arid country with huge deficits in water supply, both surface and groundwater resources in the country are critical and have been fully allocated. However, it was found that pollution activities are putting additional strain on the already sparse water resources, thereby effectively reducing available fresh water in the country. The identified sources of pollution of surface waters in South Africa are agricultural drainage and run-off (irrigation return flows, fertilizers, pesticides and runoff from feedlots), urban wash-off and effluent return flows (bacteriological contamination, salts and nutrients), industries (chemical substances), mining (acids and salts) and areas with insufficient sanitation services (microbial contamination). Pollution of groundwater results from mining activities, leachate from landfills, human settlements and salt water intrusion from the surrounding oceans. The undergraduate students’ hands on experience in this research work involved both field work and class presentations. This experience stimulated an interest in the students which was not in them ab initio. The students had a better understanding of the problems in their environment. Many of them also indicated interest in furthering their studies at graduate level in the identified environmental and geological areas.