Beaufort West’s main water source, the Gamka Dam, is completely dry. Picture: Western Cape Government

An unprecedented discovery of a fresh water resource has been found in Beaufort West, the Department of Mineral Resources said on Tuesday.  

According to the department, the resource was discovered by the Council for Geoscience (CGS), a statutory science council reporting to the minister of Mineral Resources while conducting research on the development of shale gas.

The department said the preliminary results indicate that the water is of good quality for drinking and other uses.  

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said the much-needed water resource brings about a huge relief to the drought-stricken Beaufort West and the Western Cape. 

Zwane had directed the CGS to conduct a baseline study to enable the government to make informed decisions on the balance of science-based evidence on the development of shale gas resources in the vast Karoo basin.

He applauded the application of science in delivering much-needed solutions to society.

The department said that a geoscientific team from the CGS has concluded the geological mapping, geophysical survey, both ground and air-borne, hydrogeological monitoring, which is continuous until the drilling of a deep borehole +3km and environmental screening. 

It said the water boreholes intended for the baseline studies and future monitoring of the water resource have also been used to pilot the casing methods to ensure maximum protection of the water resource in the Karoo.

"The final characterisation (quality, quantity, aquifer parameters etc) of the five boreholes will be concluded by the end of January 2018," said the department.

"The research work will be done in stages in order to minimise the potential impact of drilling to the environment.  

"In due course, the borehole will be officially handed to the municipality to ensure that the people of Beaufort West and nearby communities can have access to water."

 - African News Agency (ANA)