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A compilation of hints and tips on how to handle living in a severe drought scenario. These hints and tips are willingly shared by the people of Cape Town, and are aimed at whoever is in need - now - or in future, in order to ease their stress when faced with water shedding / shortages due to a drought

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Monday, 5 March 2018

DIY well point


The average Capetonian is short on two things: Money and water. Installing a wellpoint appears to require a lot of both of these... But does it have to..?
Let me start by saying I'm in IT, and while I have been known to be somewhat proficient in DIY and get moderate exercise, my brain is my most prized asset i.e. Im not a physical powerhouse by any definition of the word 
After being stood up by a local wellpoint installer, I decided to take matters into my own hands and install my own, but with the aim of spending as little as possible and not using water to drill it. I read up extensively on diy wellpoints, looking for viable solutions and finally ended up buying myself a sand and clay auger with a handle and enough extensions to get down to 6.5m. It took me an hour to hit the water table, another hour to get down to a decent depth into it and probably one more to do the installation. Switched on the pump this morning and lo and behold, we now have a wellpoint 
Some factoids:
- The area is Goodwood, Northern Suburbs
- The drill used was a Burrowman Hand Auger, manufactured and sold by a chap that stays in KZN.
- I surveyed the area by speaking to my neighbours and other residents of the suburb to get an idea on whether they had wellpoints, what the depth was and what yields they were getting. This gave me a pretty decent idea of what to expect. I then picked the greenest corner of my otherwise dead, unwatered garden for the drilling location.
- The ground was sand, followed by a thin hard clay layer, followed by thin light coloured layer, followed by loads of dark brown water bearing sand. I was pulling runny, sandy mud out at the end.
- The water table (i.e. point at which drilling deeper requires drilling under water said sandy mud) was at 2.5m
- The total well depth was 3.5m, 1m below the water table
- The wellscreen was made from 25mm poly pipe (irrigation pipe), some slits cut with a hacksaw and covered with a stocking (lekke tappit)
- The pump is a DAB 102M I got off Gumtree for R500. Hello bargain.
I'm in the process of documenting the entire experience in detail, at which point I'll make it available for download from my website at martipedia.org so you can do the same if you choose. Granted not all areas are created equally, but it's worth a try!
UPDATE: Following many requests, please DM me if you'd like to rent my drill to have a go at drilling your own wellpoint. Its way cheaper than buying one.
Know this people: You can do anything you set your mind to.

4 comments:

Kate said...

Surely, though, taking water from boreholes just depletes the total available water within the water cycle? It doesn't give access to new water, and it won't solve the problem long-term, it will make it a whole lot worse.

In the UK, they teach the basics of the water cycle in class, and how changing one part effects all the other parts... it seems you are missing this in SA!

Dani said...

Hi Kate - Welcome to the WSWC Hints and Tips blog.

Kate, handmade well points will only go to a certain depth - perhaps to a maximum of 10 mtrs. Once the water table drops below that depth the well point will be dry.

A borehole, on the other hand, can go much, much deeper. The City of Cape Town is, from what I understand, in the process of recording all boreholes, and will be requiring that everyone fits a water meter to their borehole pump meters in order to only draw a certain, specified amount of water per day. This is to ensure that water within the acquifer is managed carefully and correctly.

http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/239593/billions-of-cubic-metres-of-water-in-table-mountain-group-aquifer

There is great concern all round from the local experts / scientists / engineers that the acquifers below Cape Town are managed properly, not just for during this period or drought, but also for their long term sustainability.

Kate said...

Ah good, thanks for the info.

We come out to SA every year in February, and were horrified this year at how many people around the Cape Town area have notices on their gates saying 'borehole water used here' while still having beautiful green grass and gardens.

I'm glad that this is being considered - we felt that using as little water as possible every day was totally futile against the backdrop of some rich people who just don't get it and have the money to pay any fines imposed.

Dani said...

Kate - A large percentage of the "wealthy" properties have been, and are being fitted with WMD (water measuring devices) which are limiting those households to 50lts/ person / day.

Bear in mind also that people have taken to installing fake grass in order to cover "dust bowls" where once their lawns used to be. So some of the 'green lawns' that you saw may be green, but may not not necessarily be a lawn in the normal sense of the word ;)

Further info on the CoCT / acquifer control can be read here: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/uct-scientists-convince-city-be-more-cautious-table-mountain-group-aquifer/