While the City of Cape Town forges ahead with work to augment the water supply, fears are being raised about the environmental impact of extracting water from aquifers.
Ecologist Dr Jasper Slingsby says it is currently hard to tell how the extraction of underground water will impact the environment. However, he has noticed some fynbos dying due to a lack of water, and the areas that were previously affected by fires have not yet recovered.
With regards to extracting water directly it's one of the great unknowns ... I think it is one of the things that logic would tell you, there will be an impact, but to actually collect the numbers it is something that you are never going to be able to do even in a couple of decades.— Dr Jasper Slingsby, Ecologist at the South African Environmental Observation Network
It could be decades before we see it being drilled down to a point where it affects plants.— Dr Jasper Slingsby, Ecologist at the South African Environmental Observation Network
Slingsby says although the data is not clear at this point, we shouldn't go into the plans of extracting underground water blindly, but rather expect an impact and make decisions based on it.
Surely if we say we prioritise people over biodiversity, it's fine as long as you go into it with our eyes wide open and don't tell everyone that this has no environmental impact.— Dr Jasper Slingsby, Ecologist at the South African Environmental Observation Network
We need to weigh up costs and benefits properly.— Dr Jasper Slingsby, Ecologist at the South African Environmental Observation Network
To hear the rest of the interview with Dr Jasper Slingsby on how the aquifers will impact the environment, listen below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Is there proof that using aquifer water will negatively impact the environment?