WetlandViews – American farm gets fracked

29 September 2011

Despite assurances by Shell that fracking in the Karoo will not affect the region’s water supply, shocking details have emerged in the United States of how shale drilling by the giant petroleum company has wiped out a farm’s pristine water supply.

An investigation has revealed that the spring water supply on a small farm in Pennsylvania, once the pride of the state, is now unfit for human consumption, and the farmer and his family must now drink from supplies trucked in by Shell.  Owned by Jerry and Denise Gee, the water on the farm near Wellsboro in Tioga County bursts into flames when lit with a match, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has found Shell responsible for the migration of methane into the supply aquifer. Read more »

Picture of the day

28 September 2011

Cyphia species (Witels River area) Photo: Bill Harding


28 September 2011

Healthy, balanced waterbodies never suffer from blue-green algae (Photo: Bill Harding)

Where water quality is concerned, algae pose a great threat. These organisms can cause a high level of toxicity when ingested. The most poisonous form is blue-green algae, and can be extremely noxious. Drinking water contaminated with blue-green algae can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle aches. If any of the aforementioned symptoms occur, a doctor should be consulted.  The Florida Department of Health now hands out educational materials that ask people: “Have you been slimed?” Callers to the state’s Aquatic Toxins Hotline hear a recording that warns: “It is very important that pets, livestock and small children are kept out of water suspected of having a blue-green algae bloom since there have been many reported animals dying after drinking highly contaminated water.” Read more »

Floating Islands: Part 3

28 September 2011

If your pond does not have sufficient diversity or habitat or ability to attenuate nutrients, then BioHavens will provide this for you, almost instantly!

Some ponds don't need floating islands, but not many! (Photo: Bill Harding)

Cutting, shaping and assembly of the islands is mostly “to order” as each lake or pond has specific needs.

Unshaped mats in the factory store

Modules for BioHavens with their connectors installed.

All BioHavens are test-assembled prior to shipping.

Koi pond islands being cut and shaped.

Today’s picture

28 September 2011

Pelargonium lobatum (kaneelbol) Darling district. Photo: Bill Harding

Zeekoevlei conditions worsen!

27 September 2011

Despite the claims that conditions in Cape Town’s Zeekoevlei are not all that bad, it looks pretty ghastly!  (Photos courtesy of James George).   There is no economic or technological reason why Zeekoevlei has remained like this for so many years.  The authorities simply need to stop waiting for a miracle to take place and rather roll up their sleeves and fix it.

Readers of this blog will by now realize that, in many countries, conditions vastly less horrible than those shown below would have placed the entire lake off limits to the public and warning signs would have been up days ago.  Not in South Africa, unfortunately!  These conditions are in conflict with what the Constitution promises South African citizens, i.e. someone is and should be accountable for this situation. Read more »

Floating Islands: Part 2

27 September 2011

It all began with natural floating islands, in this case some of the big ones, portions of peat wetland floating freely.

Natural floating wetland! (Source: FII)

Close observation of these wetlands identified the complex matrix of materials that comprise the floating mat.

Mat of a natural floating wetland (Source: FII)

The mat or fibre matrix beneath the natural islands was identified by Bruce Kania as a massive surface area that supports biofilm development.

Biofim development

This in turn led to a sketch, a concept and two million dollars worth of research and investment to produce the BioHaven technology.

Early process sketch of a vegetated floating island (Source: FII)

Initial concept diagram.

Summary of how BioHavens work

The bulk of the biofilm forms on the Biohaven, the balance forms on plant roots

Floating Islands: Part 1

27 September 2011


WetlandViews – Uitkyk winery launches owl project

26 September 2011

This is Oswald, our resident Spotted Eagle Owl (Photo: Bill Harding)

Uitkyk, a wine farm near Stellenbosch, has created a unique project to attract various species of owl to the farm.  Well done Uitkyk!

Here's one reason that Oswald is here! (Photo: DHEC Camera Trap)

And another reason or two (Photo: Bill Harding)


26 September 2011

Kansas state parks officials are assessing the impact of large-scale, blue-green algae blooms at lakes and reservoirs that kept people and animals out of the lakes this summer.  Dangerous levels of the toxic algae prompted Kansas health officials to post advisories and warnings since May. Ron Kaufman, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the algae blooms, along with weather conditions, prompted numerous cancellations at state cabins and campsites.  “It certainly had a significant impact on our state park system and even more on the other parks and businesses in the area, particularly at the larger reservoirs,” Kaufman said. “Visitors basically stayed away if they couldn’t get in the water or take their pets in the water.” Read more »