Climate change and eutrophication similarities

21 November 2011

How bleak will our climate-changed future be? (Photo: Bill Harding)

There are some interesting similarities between climate change and eutrophication, for those who don’t know, eutrophication is the progressive and insidious pollution of our water resources, mostly by sewage effluents and all the nasties they contain. Read more »

Stating the obvious

21 November 2011

The Department of Water Affairs has again pointed out the obvious, highlighting how bad things are in our water resources here in South Africa:

Speaking at the Pretoria launch of the Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas recently, Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi warned that over half of South Africa’s river and wetlands ecosystems are threatened, Times Live reports.

“Deterioration in the health of ecosystems negatively impacts on their ability to continue providing these beneficial ecosystem services,” she said, adding “[t]here is no doubt that South Africa’s freshwater ecosystems are under increasing pressure.”

According to the Times Live report, Mabudafhasi said ecosystems, like municipal services, played an essential role in supporting development and economic prosperity and the Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas is designed to provide the first comprehensive assessment of areas in the country that were most important for sustaining the health and continued functioning of freshwater ecosystems.

South Africa’s water resources and adjacent ecosystems are in a terrible state, with only 35% of the total length of the country’s mainstream rivers still in good condition.

The recently released Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas reveals that 57% of river ecosystems and 65% of wetland ecosystems are threatened.

Mandy Driver, the SA National Biodiversity Institute’s manager of biodiversity policy, said the Biodiversity Assessment published seven years ago highlighted the poor state of many river ecosystems, with the majority of the country’s large rivers rated “critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

“We needed a strategic intervention to help sustain and conserve freshwater ecosystems, and the Atlas is the result.”

Droplets hopes that maybe it’s a Magic Atlas……??  A strategic intervention is going to need a lot more than this!

Why do officials always use denial as their first response?

18 November 2011

Is this muck evidence of clean water in Prospect Park’s lake? Watchdogs think not. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

A while back Droplets reported on the algal bloom in Prospect Park Lake (Brooklyn, New  York).  The first response was, yes, denial!  The Brooklyn Paper reports that:

The Parks Department spent much of the past three days denying reports that deadly green bacteria have overwhelmed the Prospect Park lake — but then revealed this week that biologists are testing the scum to determine the full extent of the threat. Read more »

Water Quality the New Frontier!

18 November 2011

Poor water quality affects everyone! (Photo: Bill Harding)

Readers of Droplets will no doubt have perceived by now that the biggest challenge to our socio-economic future is the (rapidly) degrading quality of our water resources.  Allied to this is the near-total lack of knowledge regarding the “hidden”, read ‘not analysed for” pollutants likely to be in these same supplies.  These issues bear significant, far-reaching and, potentially, economically-crippling risks for any country that has failed to heed them.  South Africa has consistently failed to heed these warnings for decades. Read more »

Politicians Protect Politically-Powerful Polluters

17 November 2011

Not often the chance for an alliterative title like this comes along but, thanks to politicians who bend over backwards, or perhaps the other way, for Big Business, the opportunity has been created!

A report from Florida today indicates a likelihood that the practice of exemption from meeting anti-pollution regulations will become the norm in this state of the great US of A.  Nothing new, I fear, as over here in South Africa we have lived with the practice of exemptions for decades.  Now we are starting to reap the harvest of this nonsensical idiocy. Read more »

Floating island “living machines” to help clean up China’s Lake Taihu

16 November 2011

BioHavens can solve big problems! (Source: FII)

Here at DHEC we call floating islands, at least the BioHaven-type, “biological engines” – as they provide an enormous area of floating biofilm that is active 24/7, 365 days a year. In China, the concept has been afforded an equally-descriptive name, “living machines”.

China’s Lake Taihu is a huge mess insofar as pollution and eutrophication is concerned.

The urgency to rehabilitate Taihu, which has a surface area of more than 870 square miles, is even greater as it is one of the country’s few freshwater lakes.

Researchers from Penn State University report that:

“They’re starting to develop ecological floating beds with plants like water lilies and other native species that have really long, complex root structures which can house a lot of bacteria that help remove some of the nitrogen and phosphorus from the water. These plants also absorb a lot of metals, so researchers at Jiangnan University have experiments in that area going on all the time.”


Algal problems hotting up in Oz

16 November 2011

As we move into summer, we start to see more press reports from Australia and New Zealand dealing with algal blooms.  Warnings have been issued for Lake Moondarra in Northern Queensland and renewed research is taking place at Roebuck Bay in Western Australia. Read more »

Floating Islands could solve the Bruma Lake problem

16 November 2011

BioHaven being used to cover a pongy pond! (Source: FII)

Droplets has previously observed that the new BioHaven technology would be most suitable for providing solutions to urban lake problems such as those that prevail at Johannesburg’s Zoo Lake and Bruma Lake. Read more »

Will COP17 be a huge cop-out?

15 November 2011

Climate change debate is still all uphill (Photo: Bill Harding)

I remain deeply sceptical that COP17 will yield anything of value – but I am always open to being pleasantly surprised.  Ever since the Rio meetings, very little has been achieved that has shown true compassion for the future well-being of mankind.  This coming meeting is being held in a country, South Africa, that has a continuing 70% dependence on coal for power generation – and which has done miserably little to divest itself of an excessive generation of fossil fuel-derived by-products.

I fear that COP17 will be yet another very expensive pre-Christmas junket in Durban which, as reported by a Malaysian news source, will produce

some 15,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2)  during the global climate change summit.

Some would call this oxygen theft!

South Africa is not reknowned for fostering environmental awareness in relation to “green production”.  The dismal failure of the solar heating subsidy initiative is just one example.

Children hunting??

15 November 2011

Is it just me or does anyone else find this advertisement, posted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, deeply disturbing??