This is welcome news for a part of our planet the needs of which for water is desperate and increasingly so with climate change – but it needs to be treated with caution.
When I heard about this, my first thought was to wonder about the impact on the planet if her life blood is drained away through rapid mechanical process over a short period of time – for it would affect, undoubtedly, the structure and composition of earth, above and below with considerable environmental impact. I asked myself, too, what will happen in “decades” when the water reserves are dry and by which time the people of Africa will be dependent on having ready and plentiful water supplies? With reluctance, I questioned if the discovery of the water would result in responsible extraction and usage or if, like a child eating all his Easter eggs before breakfast, there would be a frenzy to exploit the supply as rapidly as possible at whatever cost
Australia is a land beset by floods from time to time but which is parched in many places. It too needs more water. I was told, not so long ago, by an Australian friend that there is a vast reservoir of water underground, but that the fears of the repercussions of tapping it have prevented its use. Certainly, on a much smaller scale, it has been proven that the systematic draining and changing of British river courses, above and below ground over many years, to provide water for building and industry as well as drinking, has created the flooding problems that exist today, and important lessons for the industry worldwide.
It may be that many countries are found to be sitting on large reserves of pure water and that respectful use of it could improve the lives of many people marvellously. Wherever the treasure that is water is found to be, I hope that it is treated thoughtfully and carefully, with the well-being of our land as well as the people at the heart of the considerations.]]>