Groundwater resource evaluation of urban Bulawayo aquifer

  • Freeternity Rusinga Environmentek, CSIR, PO Box 320, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa
  • AE Taigbenu School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: groundwater flow, pumping tests, urban groundwater, numerical modelling, groundwater resource evaluation


Judicious management of a groundwater system requires an understanding of its hydrogeology and response to various recharge and pumping stresses. However, in developing countries, groundwater resource evaluations are hampered by a lack of adequate data that will allow for its complete characterisation. Under such circumstances it is not uncommon for ad hoc groundwater management measures to be embarked upon, especially during drought conditions. These were the conditions that existed during the 1991/92 drought when the CSIR Stellenbosch evaluated the groundwater resource of an urban aquifer in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Their recommendations revealed that about 3.5×106 m3/a could be safely abstracted from the aquifer. In this work, a more comprehensive hydrogeological investigation was carried out which included pumping tests, estimation of abstraction rates and recharge, and numerical modelling of the aquifer. The investigations indicate that the aquifer is unconfined with hydraulic conductivity and specific yield ranging from 0.1 m/d to 2.09 m/d and 0.02 to 0.11, respectively. Recharge estimates indicate an annual recharge of 105.5 mm with 38.4%, 52.1% and 9.5% accounting respectively for direct recharge, water mains and sewer leakages. Furthermore, a long-term sustainable annual abstraction of 6.1×106 m3 or 15% of current city water demand can be obtained from the aquifer.
Key words: groundwater flow; pumping tests; urban groundwater; numerical modelling; groundwater resource evaluation.
Water SA Vol.31(1) 2005: 23-34

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eISSN: 0378-4738