The City of Cape Town starts drilling first borehole into the Cape Flats Aquifer

19 January 2018

The City of Cape Town started drilling its first test borehole into the Cape Flats aquifer. This is after the dams in the town went dry as a result of drought. The city is hoping that the earth’s natural underground reservoirs will provide an extra 80m litres of water per day.

The Mayor said that this will be a first for the City of Cape Town as the water has gone untouched for decades. The City has a license to extract 80 and 40m litres of water from the Cape Flats, Table Mountain Group and the Atlantis Aquifer per day, respectively.

The drilling, however, is just the first stage of possibly rescuing the city from “Day Zero”. Furthermore, water samples must be tested, and specialists determine the extent of the treatment and purification it needs. This is ahead of the installation of reticulation pipes that connect the water to the overhaul system.

The team plans to drill at several pre-identified sites to find the highest yielding points as quickly as possible.

Day Zero

The City will drill in Strandfontein, Philippi, Wesbank, Bishop Lavis and Khayelitsha to look for the best abstraction points. Caution is also being taken to bring down water usage to 500m litres per day.

593m litres is the recorded amount at mid this week. Should the city’s taps run dry, residents will be limited to 25 litres of water per day. The current limit is 87l per day. In the meantime, the City is also expanding its water pressure reduction program with pressure management technology.


The first drill site was based at the waste water treatment plant in Mitchells Plain. The team laid out piles of different colored wet soil which had been extracted, to demonstrate the depths drilled so far.

Mayor De Lille believes aquifer extraction will bring bigger volumes of water into the city’s systems at a much reduced cost compared to other methods, such as desalination. She said that the aquifer water would be replenished by treated wastewater as it is removed.

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