Somewhere behind the large Namibia Breweries Limited’s vast concrete estates and beer towers, in Northern Industria’s Iscor Street, are two boreholes that the breweries drilled at a cost of N$4.9 million. They did that to ensure the lagers continue to flow into glasses. Severe water shortages have resulted in a restriction on some industrial operations in and around the capital.
“Additional pre-treatment of the boreholes has been installed and the water is then blended with the incoming water from the city. The existing treatment plan of NBL utilises membrane technology, which makes it possible to treat different quality water. The quality of the boreholes is thus 100 per cent sufficient for NBL,” said NBL spokesperson, Roux-che Locke.
And Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) is not alone. A number of Windhoek-based businesses, especially whose operations need vast amounts of water, are forking out millions of dollars to have their own boreholes. They are drilling in and around their premises all over Southern Industria and Northern Industria.
But business cannot simply wake up and start drilling all over Windhoek.
The water and agricultural ministry says approval would only be considered if the proposed borehole is located outside of the main aquifer and if the business can prove that its operations are severely affected by water shortages.
Anyone that wants to drill for water within Namibia needs to be issued with a licence or permit from the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. Where a prospective borehole is located within the boundaries of the city, the ministry requires a letter of approval from the city council.
“Approval will further only be considered should the operations of the business under consideration be severely affected in case of a disruption in supply of water by the city and in periods of limited water supply. Only the ministry is responsible for the issuing of permits,” stated Acting Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Sophia Kasheeta.
NBL’s two boreholes have since April this year been delivering 30 per cent of the 2400 cubic metres the company needs every day for its beverage production.
Namib Mills – which is located next to NBL – confirmed to New Era Weekend that it has commenced with a N$2.5 million project to find water. Nakara – the country’s premier processor and exporter of leather and fur products – has invested between N$500 000 and N$700 000 in a single borehole.
“Due to the persistent drought in Namibia, Namib Mills realised we needed to take serious action in order to ensure food security for the nation. As a result we engaged in a geo-hydrological study in order to anticipate possible water sources in our surrounds. We were fortunate as the results of the study showed possible water bodies in the aquifer.
After the necessary governmental approvals, we engaged in a project to drill for water on our premises in Northern Industrial Area,” said Ian Collard, Chief Executive Officer at Namib Mills.
Drilling for Namib Mills commenced on February 16, 2016 and was completed by February 21. The contractor employed by the company drilled to a depth of 79.5m and the first water was struck within the alluvium at 12m. Water was again struck at 43m to 45m, 52m, while the main water strike was encountered between 56m and 64m.
However, Namib Mills will continue looking for a viable water source as water from the first borehole was declared unfit for human consumption.
“Two water samples were collected and submitted to Analytical Laboratory Services in Windhoek for the chemical analyses. Although the water quality in general is good, the fluoride levels exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) potable water quality specifications and the iron levels were intermediate. As a result the water was deemed unfit for human consumption and a reverse osmosis water purification system was purchased. This system will ensure all minerals and determinants are within the WHO as well as NamWater potable water standards,” Collard explained.
Nakara recently started using borehole water after receiving permission from the ministry and from the City of Windhoek. According to Nakara’s director, Theo Jauss, the company’s water needs vary between 3000 cubic metres and 5000 cubic metres per month, depending on orders received.
“Nakara is fortunately not in food processing as the quality of the borehole water is not ideal. We are using the water mainly for soaking and liming of hides and skins, as this requires only marginal extra treatment from our side,” Jauss explained.
The latest figures from the City of Windhoek however indicate that water saving measures, particularly from residential areas, are not bearing fruit. Windhoek recorded a decrease of 1.5 per cent in water savings targets for this week from 34 per cent last Friday, meaning that the water saving target now stands at 32.5 per cent. This is way below the savings target of 40 per cent, according to a statement issued by the city’s public relations officer, Lydia Amutenya.
She added that the ministry, through the Directorate of Water Resource Management has issued only four licences for boreholes. These licences were issued to NBL, Namib Mills, Nakara and Dynamic Concrete.