Scientists have discovered a massive aquifer underneath Namibia, a country in Northern Africa that is desperate for water. Currently, the 800,000 people in the area are dependent on a 40-year-old canal for their drinking water, which comes from nearby Angola.
The BBC reports that The Namibian government has been attempting to tackle the lack of sustainable water in the area for the past ten years, with the help of researchers from Germany and other countries. Now, they have identified a new aquifer, named Ohangwena II, which is flowing underneath the border of Angola and Namibia.
The vast untapped water resource covers an area roughly 43 miles by 25 miles on the Namibian side. Project manager Martin Quinger, who works with the German federal institute for geoscience and natural resources (BGR) stated that the aquifer is a substantial body of water. He stated:
“The amount of stored water would equal the current supply of this area in northern Namibia for 400 years, which has about 40 percent of the nation’s population. What we are aiming at is a sustainable water supply so we only extract the amount of water that is being recharged. What we can say is that the huge amount of stored water is will always be enough for a back up for an area that is currently supplied only by surface water.”
Bloomberg Business Week reports that Quigner also stated that:
“With so much water, you can envisage a much bigger scale for irrigation, you can take the stress off more industrial areas, it can make a major change. The more we drilled, the more fresh water we found.”
Quigner believes that the aquifer is a huge resource that will serve to help agriculture in the region, as well as providing a supplemental supply to the area’s drinking water. He explained, according to The BBC, that:
“If the water [has spent] 10,000 years underground, it means it was recharged at a time when environmental pollution was not yet an issue, so on average it can be a lot better than water that infiltrates in cycles of months or years.”