These towns survive on prayer... and borehole water

Small reservoirs serve as a backup for the boreholes when there is no electricity. (Photo Credit: Johnny Miller)

Small reservoirs serve as a backup for the boreholes when there is no electricity. (Photo Credit: Johnny Miller)

In an article entitled "When Towns Run Dry", Oxpeckers.org profiles the town of Calvinia, together with neighbouring Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein, which have been hard-hit by the drought. The Karee Dam, which used to supply the towns' drinking water has completely dried up, and so now they rely primarily on seven boreholes for their water supply needs. Water is also brought in by trucks from a nearby town and they also receive donations of bottled water, but neither of these sources is sustainable in the long-term.

The boreholes provide 55 000 litres of water per hour to Calvinia's 10 000 inhabitants. The article points out that this is the first time that the boreholes have been used to such an extent and for such long periods. Because they rely so heavily on the boreholes, the towns have had to be very meticulous about how they manage this resource. They keep records of how much water has been pumped and they use reservoirs to store water to mitigate against power outages.

Although some locals complain about the taste and quality of the borehole water, the water is tested several times a week to ensure that it is up to standard and the poor taste can be attributed to its mineral content. The reality is that in a town like Calvinia, borehole water is essential to the residents' survival.

Read more about Calvinia's serious water challenges and the role of their boreholes here.