We recently purchased property in Murraysburg in the Central Karoo. A town fortunately with good strong underground water with a fairly shallow water table. Perhaps the reason for the hand dug wells?
We noticed that there was an old water well on the property that had been filled in. On further enquiry we discovered that there were a number of these water wells in the town -- also mostly filled in -- it would appear that boireholes and municipal water became / is more popular. From what I understand these old water wells were not lined (bricked).
The town was established way back in the 1850s (our original title deed is 1856). I would imagine that this was before windpumps as well as any sort of borehole drilling machine?
Being aware of the current drought situation and the importance of water in this region. I am now curious as to the human discovery and use of water in the early history of the Karoo. I imagine that the first people to do this would have been the original aboriginal inhabitants -- the Bushmen. Khoikhoi, Korana. Possibly using artesian springs and natural seeps / aquifers. There are a number of natural "eyes" in the mountain ranges.
It is the period of the trekboers where the location and knowledge and use of water resources would have been very important. Did these new inhabitants of the Karoo dig water wells (putte) ? If so how did they decide where to dig? How did they dig these wells? How often / how much were they used -- for home consumption and for the watering of stock?
Later... came the idea of the windpump and the acquisition and erection of these. When did this first happen in the Karoo? (I am aware of the book by Dr Walton "Windpumps in South Africa" but unfortunately do not have a copy.) When these were in use but before the arrival of borehole drilling how and where were the windpumps used? Over hand dug water wells?
Later still... came the borehole drilling machines -- and as they say in the movies -- the rest is history (still in operation today). Who were these early borehole drillers? What were the machines that they used? What / where are the oldest drilled boreholes still in use? Although the windpump (that Karoo icon) is slowly being replaced by solar powered submersible pumps.
I have tried to look for a detailed definitive written history of water / water resources / water use in the Karoo but have so far come up empty handed !
Hopefully someone out there knows where this information can be found?
Chris Moore | Pietermaritzburg | 033-342-5262 | firstname.lastname@example.org