Alluvial aquifers in the Mzingwane catchment: Their distribution, properties, current usage and potential expansion uri icon

abstract

  • The Mzingwane River is a sand filled channel, with extensive alluvial aquifers distributed along its banks and bed in the lower catchment. LandSat TM imagery was used to identify alluvial deposits for potential groundwater resources for irrigation development. On the false colour composite band 3, band 4 and band 5 (FCC 345) the alluvial deposits stand out as white and dense actively growing vegetation stands out as green making it possible to mark out the lateral extent of the saturated alluvial plain deposits using the riverine fringe and vegetation . The alluvial aquifers form ribbon shaped aquifers extending along the channel and reaching over 20 km in length in some localities and are enhanced at lithological boundaries. These alluvial aquifers extend laterally outside the active channel, and individual alluvial aquifers have been measured with area ranging from 45 ha to 723 ha in the channels and 75 ha to 2196 ha on the plains. The alluvial aquifers are more pronounced in the Lower Mzingwane, where the slopes are gentler and allow for more sediment accumulation. Estimated water resources potential ranges between 175,000 m3 and 5,430,000 m3 in the channels and between 80,000 m3 and 6,920,000 m3 in the plains. Such a water resource potential can support irrigation ranging from 18 ha to 543 ha for channels alluvial aquifers and 8 ha to 692 ha for plain alluvial aquifers. Currently, some of these aquifers are being used to provide water for domestic use, livestock watering and dip tanks, commercial irrigation and market gardening. The water quality of the aquifers in general is fairly good due to regular recharge and flushing out of the aquifers by annual river flows and floodwater. Water salinity was found to increase significantly in the end of the dry season, and this effect was more pronounced in water abstracted from wells on the alluvial plains. During drought years, recharge is expected to be less and if the drought is extended water levels in the aquifers may drop substantially, increasing salinity problems

publication date

  • 2006
  • 2006