2016 NGWA Groundwater Summit

The Quest for Relevant Baseline Groundwater Data in the Context of South Africa's Potential Energy Futures

Tuesday, April 26, 2016: 11:20 a.m.
Platte River Room (The Westin Denver Downtown)
Audrey Levine, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE , National Science Foundation, Garrett Park, MD
Shafick Adams, Pr.Sci.Nat. FGSSA , Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa

In many parts of the world, stressors on energy reliability and security are triggering intense interest in development of new energy resources, such as extraction of gas and oil from unconventional sources (e.g. shale, coalbeds, tight sands). However, many uncertainties surround the interdependencies between energy development and water resource protection. The quality and availability of groundwater resources can be vulnerable to impacts from energy development, particularly in conjunction with water scarcity concerns. While monitoring and modeling of groundwater systems can provide insight into potential contamination pathways and mitigation measures, it can be difficult to obtain statistically sound baseline data in cases where energy development activities pre-date monitoring programs. In addition, there is a lack of consensus on exactly what comprises baseline data in terms of monitoring parameters, frequency, and data analytics. 

In South Africa, there is increasing interest in improving energy reliability and security through developing unconventional energy sources. However, the decision process surrounding South Africa's energy futures requires a robust understanding of the water-energy nexus, especially under changing climatic conditions, recurring droughts, population growth, and increasing urbanization. The region targeted for energy development has historically supported rural populations and farming. This paper will provide an overview of energy/groundwater interdependencies in South Africa, discuss current and emerging approaches for developing baseline data, and provide practical insights from field investigations. The presentation will highlight the unique opportunity to leverage the global knowledge base related to unconventional energy development towards developing relevant, useful, and useable baseline data. The capacity to serve as a test-bed for new technologies and sensors will also be explored.

Audrey Levine, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, National Science Foundation, Garrett Park, MD
Audrey Levine is a Program Director at the National Science Foundation and is also affiliated with Flinders University as a Strategic Professor in Energy and Environment. She is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster and recently completed a Fulbright project hosted by the South Africa Water Research Commission. From 2006-2011, Levine served as the National Program Director for Drinking Water Research in the USEPA’s Office of Research and Development. She has held tenured faculty academic appointments at several universities. Levine holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering (University of California at Davis), an M.S. in Public Health (Tulane University), and an undergraduate degree in Biology (Bates College).

Shafick Adams, Pr.Sci.Nat. FGSSA, Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa
Dr Shafick Adams is a Hydrogeologist with an MSc and PhD from the University of the Western Cape. He also lectured at the same university. Shafick manages projects related to subsurface hydrology and water resources protection. Groundwater has long been the Cinderella of water resources in South Africa. While it now has a strategic importance; groundwater’s role, occurrence and behaviour is not yet properly understood. Dr. Shafick Adams is dedicated to rectifying this situation. Within the water resource protection thrust the current research focus is on the generation of knowledge in understanding the catchment processes and land-use activities that influence the quality and quantity of our water resources. Shafick was awarded the GJ Stander Young Scientist in Water Award in 2004 and serves as the chairperson of the Groundwater Division of the Geological Society of SA. He also serves as the co-chair of the International Water Associations Groundwater Restoration and Management Specialists Group.