South African government ignores water quality as a fundamental climate change issue

25 October 2011

From Water Quality: Decent into Crisis (with apologies to Regan)

Yet again, the South African Department of Water Affairs, and the various groupings trying to muddle their way through climate change issues, have ignored the very pertinent issue of water quality.  In particular, how the degraded and/or worsening quality of South Africa’s water resources exacerbates the impacts of reduced water availability.  Additionally, how the same scenario will probably result in a worsening situation with respect to the effects of eutrophication.  Input from this by some opposition parties, who ostensibly know better, also appears to be lacking. Read more »

Mystery blobs linked to horny stags

25 October 2011

Source of the blob?? (Source: Wikipedia)

THE mystery surrounding the appearance of strange blobs of slime on the UK’s Eden fells came a step closer to being solved this week and may be due to nothing  more complex than stags getting themselves into a froth (see Droplets).

Residents in the Patterdale area reported finding numerous large blobs of “jelly” floating on puddles on the surrounding fells, a phenomenon which caused interest in the national media.  The white blobs were reported as being about the size of a man’s foot.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh algae expert Dr. Hans Sluiman, after analysing a sample of the substance from Patterdale, said that at its centre was what appeared to be sperm from a rutting stag.  He speculated that a reaction with the water in a puddle caused a slimy mass to develop around the sperm.

Rumours had surrounded the appearance of the translucent mass, which had also been sighted in Scotland in 2009, with speculation rife that it had fallen from a passing meteor.

Any other ideas??

Financial crisis hits US water sector

25 October 2011

Fact: Rivers are twice as likely to be polluted by municipal wastewater treatment plants than industrial wastewater discharge.   A publicly-owned and managed water utility is 100 times more likely to breach Safe Drinking Water Act regulations than investor-owned water utilities. Read more »

Legal action over fracking

25 October 2011

An environmental group has resorted to court action in a bid to get information related to fracking from the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMR), says a report in The Citizen. Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said it was seeking details about a task team that was investigating the impact of mining for shale gas in the Karoo. The group said it had filed the papers in the High Court as a last resort after its requests for information from the department were ignored.

‘The DMR has left TKAG with no alternative but to bring an application to court, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.’  The group said this was the first time legal proceedings had been instituted in relation to the 2010 applications by Royal Dutch Shell and other companies in connection with the controversial mining technique known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’. TKAG chair Jonathan Deal said the decision to allow or refuse fracking would make international history and the public had the right to be kept informed. According to TKAG, the papers set out the history of the group’s ‘numerous, but fruitless’ attempts to elicit information from the DMR regarding the task team that was appointed in April.

SA may need R1trillion to fund nuclear power stations

25 October 2011

A report in today’s issue of Legalbrief Environmental notes that controversial plans to build more nuclear power plants in SA – one of which is widely mooted for the Eastern Cape’s ecologically sensitive Thyspunt – have gained momentum with the government confirming a R1trn tender proposal. Thyspunt is between Oyster Bay and St Francis Bay. Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has confirmed that a tender proposal for construction of 9 600 MW of nuclear power by 2030, currently under review by the Cabinet, could be worth at least R1 trn. The value would make it the highest public tender ever issued in SA, raising questions about how Eskom would raise the money to pay for new nuclear plants. According to the Energy Department’s Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2010-2030, published in the May Government Gazette, nuclear and renewable energy will be grown in the coming years, while the country’s reliance on coal-fired power stations will be reduced.

Why cannot the ANC government get it right?

25 October 2011

Finally the controversial political-appointee head of the South African Police has been “suspended”. One would think that at least now the government would see the errors of their ways and appoint a real policeman, with lifetime of experience, to the top job?

Alas, no.  We continue with ignoring the needs of experience and knowledge in a country where crime is out of control.  The appointment of Nhlanhla Sibusiso Mkwanazi (38), known by colleagues as ‘Lucky’, raised eyebrows as several senior role-players in the police do not know him, says the report. He joined the police in 1993 and is head of the special task forces. The Institute for Security Studies’ Johan Burger described the appointment as inexplicable as four of Cele’s deputies were overlooked. ‘It cannot be good for order and discipline in the police,’ he said.

Of course the suspension is on full pay, so the taxpayer now covers yet another not fit for the job comrade to sit at home and relax.  It remains a mystery how anyone who is not a career policeman could get the top job in any case.

One step forward, two steps back!

Lake Dorena restrictions lifted at last!

25 October 2011

Oregon health authorities on Monday lifted a toxic blue-green algae bloom alert for Dorena Lake that had been in place since Sept. 19.  Toxic blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, warnings are still in effect for seven Oregon bodies of water, including Fall Creek Lake in Lane County and Sru Lake and South Tenmile Lake in Coos County.

Water monitoring in Dorena Lake confirmed levels of cyanobacteria had dropped to the point where dangerous toxin concentrations were no longer considered a threat by World Health Organization guidelines, the Oregon Public Health Division said. Read more »

Kansas prepares battle plan against blue-green algae!

24 October 2011

I'm not just a pretty face! (Photo: Bill Harding)

During the past summer, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment tracked toxic blue-green algal blooms in more than 40 lakes and ponds.  Those blooms caused 16 people to fall ill and the deaths of at least four dogs. Money lost from visitors who stayed away from some of the state’s most popular summer recreation spots hasn’t been calculated. Neither has the number of other animals who became sick or died from algae-infested ponds.

Last summer, the state got a glimpse of just how bad it could get when Kansas’ largest reservoir, Milford Lake, was closed to swimming, wading and water skiing for nearly three months.  As the weather cools, days grow shorter and winds pick up, the algal blooms across Kansas are disappearing. And as they do, state agencies are beginning to study just how well they responded to this year’s outbreak and how to better manage future blooms.   Read more »

Mystery foam blobs appear at Cumbrian lakes

23 October 2011

The mystery blobs (Source: North News)

The Lake District fells have been invaded by ‘The Blob’, a translucent jelly which is said in folklore to be from outer space.   Within the past week the mysterious translucent jelly has materialised in and around the fells of Patterdale, Cumbria.  From the pictures it looks like some sort of proteinaceous foam. Read more »

Phosphorus limits for wastewater treatment plant

22 October 2011

A public health advisory has been issued for Kitsap Lake near Bremerton and Long Lake in South Kitsap (WA).  Highly toxic blue-green algae blooms, which can cause serious illness in people and can kill animals, were seen in both lakes. Read more »