Roughly three hundred meters below the arid landscape of northern Namibia, in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers have discovered a source of fresh water with enough capacity to match the region’s current water demand for up to 400 years.
The 800,000 people who live in the area depend for their drinking water on a 40-year-old canal that brings the scarce resource across the border from Angola. Over the past decade the Namibian government have been trying to tackle the lack of a sustainable supply in partnership with researchers from Germany and other EU countries.
They have now identified a new aquifer called Ohangwena II, which flows under the boundary between Angola and Namibia.
An aquifer usually consists of a rocky or gravel layer in the Earth’s surface where water can collect in the holes between rocks. A clay layer will often serve as a cap, trapping the water.
The Namibian paper Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the aquifer is slowly replenished from water that enters the soil in the Angolan mountains to the north. The current estimate suggests the aquifer holds roughly 5 billion cubic meters of water.
The discovery builds on research released earlier this year that showed a vast system of freshwater aquifers distributed across the African continent.
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