History of the GRIP Project

The Division Geohydrology of DWA started the Groundwater Resource Information Project (GRIP) in the 2002/2003 financial year. It is focussed on the collection of point source data and the verification and uploading thereof on a regional groundwater database. This database was envisaged to form the basis for the generation of products (maps, reports, etc.) derived from the assessment and interpretation of collected groundwater data. These products can in turn support the planning and development of groundwater resources in Limpopo. The project comprises of several phases of which the desk study, field survey, data verification and the establishment of a website (for data access and download) have been completed. The GRIP data can be accessed and downloaded at the following Internet address: www.griplimpopo.co.za. The GRIP project consists of the following phases:

Phase 1: Data collection

  • Establishment of a hydrocensus team
  • Establishment of a project management committee
  • Gathering of existing borehole information (existing reports)
  • Development of practical field forms
  • Establishment of an Internet information support service
  • Conduct field survey
  • Capture data in hard copy
  • Capture and disseminate data electronically
  • Verify data
  • Supply data to provincial database


Phase 2: Assessment of existing data

  • Consolidate new and existing borehole data
  • Analyse regional and structural geology using aerial photographs, remote sensing data, geological data, and regional and structural geology field data
  • Do a comprehensive borehole data assessment and include borehole distribution, groundwater use, and water levels, flow directions, water quality, etc. ArcView and Spatial Analysis as well as other appropriate technologies
  • Capture and interpret available borehole yield test data and identify any further borehole yield test sites
  • Conduct borehole yield tests
  • Report per district municipality with the following outputs: water quality map, sanitation/protection zoning map; revised harvest/exploitation potential map, groundwater resources map, geological structures and borehole yield relationship, groundwater target map, etc.
  • Identify and implement monitoring zones
  • Populate and update provincial database


Phase 3: Target identification, drill and test

  • Select targets for groundwater development using results from phases 1 and 2
  • Drill exploration holes to test and confirm potential at the selected targets
  • Conduct borehole yield tests on selected successful boreholes and analyse results to establish aquifer characteristics and sustainable supply available from various aquifers
  • Consolidate results with Phase 1 and 2
  • Populate and update provincial database


Phase 4: Deliverables and reporting

The final product will be a Groundwater services planning report which should include the following information:

  • Quality of the groundwater (map)
  • Potential targets for wellfield development (map)
  • Sustainable 24hour abstraction rate per target plus number of boreholes required per target to maintain wellfield yields (map)
  • Daily, monthly and annual available volumes of groundwater
  • Existing infrastructure (reservoirs, pipelines, pumps, etc.)
  • Sanitation status, recommended protection zoning of groundwater abstraction points, wellfields and recharge areas as well as potential pollution threats (map)
  • Development cost per target
  • A groundwater management plan
  • Classification of the groundwater resources, quantification of the reserve and resource quality



  • An operation and maintenance plan
  • Populate and update provincial database
  • Implementation of REGIS Africa in Limpopo
  • Establishment of a groundwater service centre
  • Establishment of standard tender documents for hydrogeological component, drilling, borehole yield testing and equipping of boreholes

Groundwater plays a major role in South Africa and in rural areas. Millions of people are dependent on groundwater. Questionable data sets almost always lead to incorrect assumptions about groundwater use and sustainability. As a result, groundwater is always seen as a secondary water resource option and , in South Africa, the formal water sector has yet to see the value of proper groundwater as a sustainable water resource. Verified groundwater data is needed to show the formal water sector that groundwater truly is a sustainable water resource. For the first time in South African history an IWRM framework gives groundwater resource managers the ability to motivate for groundwater data projects where service delivery is the focus and not science. The South African IWRM requires verified groundwater data sets and data need to be captured in a manner that serves the needs of both the NWA and the WSA. Therefore, when developing a WSDP for a district municipality where groundwater plays a strategic role, the data needs to be available to the water management authority in a format that is usable for the district municipality. Data requirements have to satisfy water service needs such as infrastructure information, accurate spatial distribution, sustainable yields and management requirements. The data set also needs to satisfy the requirements of the NWRS and future CMSs, and include more traditional hydrogeological data such as recommended yields, strike depths, transmissivity, storativity, aquifer type, etc. Limpopo is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa, but also one of the areas in South Africa where groundwater is most widely used as the only domestic water supply. In Limpopo alone some 30 boreholes are drilled per day and data from only a number of newly drilled boreholes are ever captured by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).
In view of the above Limpopo initiated and implemented GRIP and thus became the first province in South Africa to do so. GRIP follows a systematic approach to gather, verify, upload and use data to improve management and development of rural groundwater resources in South Africa. The project comprises four phases of which the desk study, field survey, data verification and the establishment of an Internet website for data access and download have been completed. GRIP was designed to serve water resource management, supply and planning purposes.