Port Elizabeth builders suck water out of wetland?

29 February 2012

For some months it appears that a contractor has been getting free water out of a Walmer wetland in Port Elizabeth (a charge denied by the contractor, I must add).  An investigation will determine whether the water was taken from the wetland or from a convenient fire hydrant nearby. Source: The Herald. Read more »

South African fish threatened by fungal disease

25 February 2012

GreenTimes reports on a fungal fish disease that appears to be geographically widespread.  Epizootic Ulceritic Syndrome (EUS) has been reported in the following waters:

Theewaterskloof Dam, Buffelsjagts and Arabie Dam in the Western Cape and, more recently, in Hartbeespoort and the Vaal Dam in Gauteng.   It has also been reported in Zimbabwe,  the Upper Zambezi and the Okavango Rivers for a couple of years.

Droplets can add that we have seen these symptoms in Rietvlei Dam (Pretoria, Gauteng).

The occurrence over such a wide area may well have to do with the indiscriminate relocation of fish, such as carp, between dams by anglers.  While most serious anglers are aware of the dangers of “restocking” into their favorite waters, illegal movement of fish is common and widespread.  Cases of inappropriate handling of fish during the practice of “catch and return” may also contribute to the spread of the disease within a particular dam or lake.

South Africa’s Vaal River a pollution problem.

23 February 2012

Something very unusual but quite positive is happening in the South African press: four reports of water quality issues in one week! (see link).  Today we read of well-heeled landowners along Millionaires Bend on the Vaal River, south of Johannesburg, becoming very upset about their cesspool river frontage!  Does this mean the public is becoming more aware and the press losing their fear of the Department of Water Affairs?  Let’s hope it’s both!

As South Africa’s Minister of Finance said quite correctly yesterday in his Budget Speech, its time to reduce the number of bureaucrats sitting in offices and get more people working out in the field – or words to that effect.  Our Department of Water Affairs urgently needs trained and aware field officers across the entire country.  Desk-drivers are not going to attenuate infrastructure collapse and technical skills-shortages. Read more »

More about tastes and odours in water supplies

22 February 2012

Anabaena solitaria, showing a heterocyst and an akinete (Photo: Bill Harding)

Algae-produced tastes and odours in drinking water have been much in the news in the Western Cape during the past few days.  In this particular instance we are talking about the compound geosmin, produced by blue-green algal (cyanobacteria) species such as Anabaena solitaria –  the photo above shows a portion of an algal filament sampled from a dam near Paarl, north-east of Cape Town, this week. Read more »

River Torrens claims a life

22 February 2012

The Torrens River in Adelaide, Australia, features regularly as a home from home for blue-green algae.  This week, however, a student drowned while trying to swim across it!

Adelaide City Councillor Anne Moran said from the Council’s point of view, the tragedy highlighted the need for the State Government and City Council to prioritise the cleanup of the river.  “This is a dangerous river, because it is so muddy and full of algae that once somebody goes under the water it is very difficult to find them.” [Source: ABC Western Queensland].

Unsafe water in the Free State?

22 February 2012

Hard on the heels of the reports of acid mine drainage affecting drinking water in Carolina and the cyanide leak near Newcastle (link), come claims of unsavoury tap water in the Mafube Municipality in the Free State.  Yes, three major water quality issues in one week! Read more »

Dog dies from blue-green algal poisoning at NZ’s Hutt River

21 February 2012

Last week Droplets reported on the toxic algal problem in New Zealand’s Hutt River (link).    Sadly, someone’s pet dog found some  of the algal mats and died from the effect of the toxins.

Royalty not immune to eutrophication

20 February 2012

It seems that HRH Prince Charles’s plans to do a bit of development on the side have been side-swiped by fears of increased pollution into the River Frome.  It appears that an “offset” has been agreed to, allowing 1200 units to be built if measures are taken to reduce pollution coming from other parts of Poundbury Estate.  The raging drought in the UK has not helped either:

The Environment Agency has declared Anglia as officially in drought, meaning restrictions on water use, and is likely to issue more warnings for the South East and East Midlands. The drought in the most populated areas of the UK mean half of population in England faces restrictions this summer if hosepipe bans and other measures have to be brought in. So far this winter has been drier than the winter preceding the 1976 drought when rivers went dry and food prices went up.

And we think of the UK as a bit wet?

New water quality regulations will come into effect in Florida as from March 6th:

A federal judge in Florida has ruled that specific limits on sewage, manure and fertilizer contamination in state waters must take effect March 6.  U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling Saturday in Tallahassee ended years of delays in setting those limits.

The pollutants feed algae blooms on lakes and streams. The blooms can cause health problems in humans and can be fatal to wildlife.  Earthjustice filed a Clean Water Act federal lawsuit in 2008 on behalf of environmental groups seeking limits on the pollutants in Florida.

The federal limits replace a state rule requiring studies of algae blooms but no preventive measures.

Rather than people starving themselves in South Africa over toll road office complexes, they should consider utilizing such extreme measures to address more serious issues – otherwise by the time comes that they want to protest about water quality, their only option will be self-immolation.

Acid mine drainage in Carolina’s tap water: lucky it wasn’t the cyanide!

20 February 2012

A couple of readers have asked why I did not blog about the cyanide spill into the Ngagane River (Newcastle, KZN, South Africa).  My only response is that I am still entirely flabbergasted as to how it can be that a cyanide plant has an overflow system that can reach a river at all – what were Water Affairs thinking when they approved this?   Surely any spills of such a dangerous chemical should be contained ENTIRELY on-site – irrespective of how the spill occurs?

I see from a DWA press release today that the effects of acid mine drainage have appeared in the tap water in Carolina (Mpumalanga Province) – and this via the local dam.  Apparently the problem arose last month, which makes the press release a tad late.

The water quality problems are coming closer and closer!

Comprehensive assessment of fracking threats

18 February 2012

While debate rages in some quarters about the transparency of fracking assessments, a process logged by the Adirondack Mountain Club (north-east NY, USA) provides an example of detailing all the concerns and responses thereto, as shown on their website.  They go to the extent of even listing those who sponsor each issue and links to documentation and officials responsible.  Nice to be able to follow a logical process and not be diverted by press hype and emotive statements for a change! Read more »