One of Africa's Driest Countries Finds Water

And aquifer could be enough to supply northern Namibia for centuries

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 20, 2012 1:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, but perhaps not for long. The BBC reports that an aquifer flowing beneath its boundary with Angola has been discovered—and the new water source could keep the country's north anything but parched for some 400 years. And one encouraging announcement brings others: Scientists say the water is 10,000 years old, which means "it was recharged at a time when environmental pollution was not yet an issue," according to a German researcher leading the project.

Another plus: The country's north, home to 40% of Namibians, currently relies on two rivers that are so crucial that farming around them has been hampered. A new water source could loosen those restrictions, allowing for irrigation and livestock watering that could greatly boost agriculture. But there is one caveat: A small salty aquifer sits atop the massive one, which means drilling will have to be performed carefully. "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," says the researcher.

The Kunene river near the Epupa falls in northern Namibia at the border with Angola is showen. Namibians may have a new water source.   (Getty Images)
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