29 March 2011

The week started out with two South African articles, both highlighting the water quality problems and the lack of skills to address same, particularly in our dams.  Both of these received precious little coverage – a characteristic of the inability of the South African press to understand and address issues of real concern – but which may not be “headline grabbers” right now.  All too many reporters are still grubbing around for more on the AMD issue!  I find that most reporters really struggle to understand what risks water quality really embodies!  It is heartening to note that reports by others such as the CSIR are starting to echo what people like myself have been saying for the past 15 years!

As if neurotoxins, liver toxins, BMAA and progestogens are not enough, cyanobacterial toxins have also been linked to Chronic Renal Failure (see elsewhere on this blog for an earlier report on this).  Yet another reason to ensure good water quality in our dams – is anyone at Water Affairs listening?

The USA’s battle over the regulation of phosphorus in runoff continues.  As was the case in South Africa, the arguments against protecting water resources are based on cost, i.e. it will be too expensive to implement the protections!  Talk about short-sighted business interests!  In Wisconsin, one of the local politicians wants to “make the state friendlier by easing the regulatory burden…” (see also here and here and here and also here!).  On a more positive note, “Lawn care products maker Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. said today that its lawn maintenance fertilizers used in the U.S. will be phosphorus-free by 2012’s end, helping to further reduce water pollution“.

The toxic shellfish health warning has been lifted for the wider Coromandel and Bay of Plenty coastline (New Zealand), ending 15 months of concern. As the article correctly points out, “bivalve shellfish (those with two shells) filter food particles from the seawater and so, for example, can accumulate viruses and bacteria from sewage overflows and farm run-off, toxins from naturally occurring algae, and chemical contaminants such as heavy metals from urban storm water run-off“.  Several cities are concerned about the eutrophic “dead zones” their runoff creates, and are doing something about it!

From Jacksonville (Florida) comes news of a Prymnesium parvum bloom and associated fish deaths.  This organism is no stranger to South Africa and caused a big fish kill in Zandvlei (Cape Town, South Afric) during the 1980s.  It was possibly also implicated in the fish kill in Rietvlei (same location) – an aspect ignored by those managing the latter incident – despite their having been alerted to the possibility.  From Australia, high levels of potentially toxic blue-green algae have been detected in Kennington Reservoir and Lake Tom Thumb.

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