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New Aquifer Discovered in Namibia can Supply Water for 400 Years

Jul 25, 2012 11:08 AM EDT

A new aquifer called Ohangwena II has been discovered that stretches under the borders of Namibia and Angola covering an area of 43 miles by 25 miles on the Namibian side of the border, according to BBC.

The new water source is said to be 10,000 years old and could help resolve the water crisis in Namibia, which is the driest nation in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 800,000 people living in Northern Namibia depend on one canal for drinking water supply.

According to project manager Martin Quinger, from the German Federal Institute for Geoscience and Natural Resources (BGR), the newly found aquifer will be substantial for agricultural purposes.

"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," Quinger told the BBC.

"For the rural water supply the water will be well suited for irrigation and stock watering, the possibilities that we open with this alternative resource are quite massive." he explained.

As the untapped Ohangwena II water resource is very old, water quality will be better. But Quinger cites that there is a potential danger in filtering the water from the aquifer. A small salt water aquifer which sits right on top of the Ohangwena II may get mixed with it compromising the quality of the water, if the right techniques are not followed to filter the water.

"If people don't comply with our technical recommendations they might create a hydraulic shortcut between the two aquifers which might lead to the salty water from the upper one contaminating the deep one or vice versa," Quinger said.

Namibia is an arid land and there is a huge lack of water supply in the country. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report, more than 92 percent of Namibia's land is arid, semi-arid or hyper-arid. The country faces dry and hot conditions with sparse or no rainfall.

The newly discovered aquifer can help in farming and develop agriculture in the country.

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