Water, water everywhere, but treat it yourself if you want to drink it!

31 March 2012

I have believed for some time that we are moving steadily towards a situation in South Africa wherein, although you may have water piped to your house, you will need to treat it yourself in order to be able to drink it.  I have heard this opinion confirmed in comments made by senior officials from water authorities.  Basically, up there in the roof next to your geyser,  you will need a reverse-osmosis unit or similar to ensure the potable safety of your water.  This, assuming that the government does nothing to stem the rate at which our surface waters are being degraded. Read more »

Could the opposition do a better job with water resource management?

31 March 2012

I doubt it.  Opposition politicians are always quick to criticize the incumbent government about their inadequacies but are slow in coming forward with alternative plans to do things better.  The reality is that, should they come to power, they will simply inherit the mess left behind by the previous incumbents.  This type of situation highlights why it is so important to render departments managing something as important as water, as apolitical as possible and to ensure  a professional continuity of skills and resources that is independent of who is in charge.  Such departments should never suffer from the scourge of “political (cadre) appointments”.

On this same theme, there is a strong argument for all to contribute to water resource management, not just leave it up to the ruling party.  Wishful thinking perhaps? Read more »

Bloemwater carry a Torch for water quality monitoring

23 March 2012

Bloemwater are the first South African Water Board to adopt the AlgaeTorch technology (Photo: Bill Harding)

Bloemfontein Water (Bloemwater), the suppliers of potable water to the central and southern Free State, have taken delivery of two AlgaeTorches to augment their ability to rapidly and reliably determine the concentration of chlorophyll in their source waters.  In so doing, they have become the first Water Board in South Africa to take this proactive step.

Bloemwater staffers with their AlgaeTorches, delivered by Bill Harding (right) (Photo: DHEC)

At a presentation yesterday, World Water Day, attended by senior staffers, including CEO Dr B Malakoane and CFO Mr Ockert Stadler, the use of the instruments was explained to technical personnel by Dr Bill Harding of DH Environmental (DHEC).  DHEC are the South African agents for the bbe Moldaenke range of equipment.

Measurements of chlorophyll in water supplies provide an indication of the level of algae present.  Readers of Droplets will know that elevated levels of algae reflect excess pollution and possible water treatment and fitness for use issues for the water in question.  Until recently, field measurements of chlorophyll have been constrained by the time and cost required to obtain laboratory results.  Now, with the AlgaeTorch, readings can be obtained on-site in seconds.  Furthermore, the instrument also provides separate readings for total chlorophyll and the chlorophyll contained in blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), these being the algal group posing the biggest threat to the provision of safe water.  The ability to instantly obtain these values constitutes a major advance augmenting the ability of any water authority to monitoring of supplies.

The AlgaeTorch is but one of a range of sophisticated, state-of-the-art chlorophyll measuring tools from bbe Moldaenke.

World Water Day – Water Affairs Scorecard

21 March 2012

Tomorrow is WWD2012 (World Water Day) – a day so important that I suggested it be considered as a public holiday, intensively devoted to water awareness.

Yesterday’s press carried a two-page set of articles on this important event and, based on my theme of attention to water quality as a strategic component of water availability, I decided to score the Department of Water Affairs based on the content of the articles published.  Here goes: Read more »

It’s official: your matric certificate may be rubbish

19 March 2012

Jonathan Jansen, VC of Free State University, is a brave man.  He calls things as he sees them and does not subscribe to the political drivel that we have to swallow on a daily basis.  On yesterday’s Carte Blanche, he rubbished the value of the NSC/OBE matriculation examination as a farce and a scam – something many academics have known since OBE was mooted, but kept quiet. But then, this is a country where perfectly good terms such as ‘scholar’ and ‘pupil’ were replaced by the extremely-irritating use of the word ‘learner’.  I have been unable to find out what was behind that, other than an Afrikaans to English simplification of “leerling”? Read more »

World Water Day 2012 is on its way, sooner than you may realize

16 March 2012

(Photo: Bill Harding)

World Water Day is next Thursday (March 22nd) , incidentally on the day when I will be delivering some cutting edge, time saving technology to one of South Africa’s more progressive water treatment authorities.

The theme of WWD2012 is “Water and Food Security” and all that this life-sustaining linkage embodies.

WWD should, by rights, be a global public holiday, focussed on awareness-building amongst all the citizens of this planet, empowering them to understand the importance of proper water resource protection and water use.

Global call for better attention to water resource management

16 March 2012

The past few days have seen various statements emerging from the WWF gathering of 20000-odd people.  One of the most important has been the call to “safeguard the resource on which all life depends”.  That should be pretty clear to most, otherwise

An intensification of the global water crisis will raise public health costs, derail economic development, aggravate ecological problems, and cause grave social and geo-political tensions, potentially leading to conflicts.

This is already happening in many parts of the world. Read more »

Grandmother could see jail time for infilling a wetland

16 March 2012

An Iowan grandmother, thirteen times over, could see the inside of a jail for between 8 and 14 months for infilling 7000 sq meters (0.7 hectares) of wetland on her property. Penalties for damaging wetlands in the US are particularly onerous, resulting in fines of thousands of dollars per day by the EPA where orders to cease work are ignored. Read more »

Water Affairs seeks big money from overseas to fix failing infrastructure

15 March 2012

The South African Department of Water Affairs is seeking overseas investments of an estimated R75Billion in an attempt to get our wastewater treatment infrastructure back on track.  No indication of the level of sophistication is mentioned but it is assumed that this would only be for “basic” treatment levels, i.e. nothing special to offset the images of wastewater effluents on eutrophication. Read more »

Time to speak out on South African water quality issues

14 March 2012

For many years now I have spoken out on the need to attend to the management of water quality in South Africa’s water resources, especially our dams.  Despite offering constructive criticism, backed up by admonishment to roll up sleeves and do something, rather than commissioning more and more studies, there has been very little attempt by the authorities to engage with my message.  Its much easier to shoot the messenger – i.e. ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. Read more »