World Water Day – 22 March 2022

Every year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. “Groundwater: making the invisible visible” is the theme for World Water Day 2022. World Water Day on groundwater will put a spotlight on this invisible resource, enhance knowledge, and thereby increase awareness of the importance of taking care of groundwater.

Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers. Groundwater is naturally recharged by rain, or other forms of precipitation, and is the source of water for aquifers, springs, boreholes, and wells.

Groundwater is found almost everywhere, and its quality is usually very good. The fact that groundwater is stored in the layers beneath the surface, and sometimes at very high depths, helps to protect it from contamination and preserve its quality.

Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Groundwater plays a major role in water supply, food production, climate change, health, pollution and protection, settlements, the environment and disaster, conflict, and human rights issues.

Of all the freshwater in the world (excluding polar ice caps), 95% is groundwater. Surface water (lakes and rivers) only makes up three % of freshwater.

Groundwater is a vital resource that provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide, about 40% of water for irrigated agriculture and about one third of water required for industry. It sustains ecosystems, maintains the baseflow of rivers and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion.

Groundwater is an important part of the climate change adaptation process and is often a solution for people without access to safe water.

In South Africa, groundwater plays a key strategic role in supporting economic development and sustaining water security in several rural and urban settlements that are either entirely or partially dependent on groundwater supply.

The main water uses of groundwater in South Africa are:

  • Irrigated agriculture (66%)
  • Mining (15%)
  • Domestic water supply (13%)
  • Livestock, industry (including power generation) and aquaculture (6%)

Groundwater resources and associated goods and functions are still undervalued and are not being utilised to their full potential. The inadequate level of knowledge of groundwater management, especially at municipality level requires serious attention.

By protecting groundwater, lives and ecosystems can be saved and climate change can be tackled all at once.

World Water Day PosterWorld Water Day Poster (978 KB)

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