Climate change spurs need for more dams in Africa

27 September 2012

Recent press articles have noted the problems with water supply in some towns in Zimbabwe, so much so that whole towns have been required to flush their toilets at the same time, on the same day, in order to flush out accumulated waste in the sewer systems! Other issues, hotly denied by the authorities in Harare, point to potentially-serious water quality problems, with green-tinged water being delivered to end-users.  Similar problems are being reported from Zanzibar. Read more »

Walnut Creek gets some floating islands!

25 September 2012

Planting Walnut Creek’s new islands (Source: Costra Conta Times)

To cut down on chemically treating water and to give fish a chance to thrive, Walnut Creek [California] became the first Bay Area city Tuesday to try out man-made floating islands as an environmentally sustainable way to get cleaner water and improve fish habitat.  This pond is cement lined and has no hope of attaining any decent level of semi-natural functionality without a technology such as the floating island concept. Read more »

Clean Water Act to become Dirty Water Act in Florida?

25 September 2012

Life is all about learning to share… (Photo: Bill Harding)

Here’s a worrying report from Gainesville in Florida:

…the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has drafted a substitute for EPA’s rules that would only require pollution controls AFTER waters have been severely degraded, requiring expensive clean-up at taxpayer expense. These industry-friendly standards will allow unsafe pollution levels rather than following the common-sense limits set by the U.S. EPA under the Clean Water Act. Read more »

Nutrient reduction, nutrient reduction, nutrient reduction!

24 September 2012

Male Malachite Sunbird (Photo: Bill Harding)

No, its intentional, I meant to have a repetitive title.  Recently I saw an article, the origin of which escapes me now, which pointed out the three fundamental targets for dealing with eutrophic lakes and all their unwanted symptoms: this is, quite simply, nutrient reduction, nutrient reduction, nutrient reduction.  Nothing more, nothing less.

This basic and longstanding realization aside, tackling eutrophication remains hamstrung by the apparent need for more studies about why the algae are there, and why they do what they do.  This has been going on for decades and while some very valuable scientific findings have been made, little is going to be achieved in terms of solving the problem.  Many, many studies on blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) have revealed one constant: they have an unparalled resilience to efforts to get rid of them and starving them is the only long-term solution.   Read more »

Frog deformities and blue-green algae

22 September 2012

I have previously reported on the possible connection between environmental progestogens and sterility in frogs.  Today there is an (as yet unverified) report to the effect that cyanobacteria can produce vitamin-A type metabolites that may be responsible for causing deformities in frogs.  I have not been able to link the article to any scientific report and have passed the information on to a colleague who specializes in this field.  If any readers can shed more light please be so kind as to let me know.

On the CyanoAlert front, quite a few reports today: Read more »

Long-lost Western Cape wetland to be recreated

22 September 2012

View across the Klein Zeekoevlei, the area beyond the dam (Photo: Bill Harding)

A lost wetland that few people even know about is to be re-created just outside Somerset West, near Cape Town, South Africa.  The Klein Zeekoevlei (small hippo pan) wetland, will form a central component of the Sitari Field Lifestyle Estate, situated between the N2 and the R104, just north of Macassar. Read more »

Washington moves forward to adopt new water quality standards for toxics

22 September 2012

Press Release: The progressive revision of water quality rules and standards in the US state of Washington continues:

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) today (21 September 2012) begins formal rule-making activities to adopt new human health-based water quality standards for toxics. Read more »

Surprise surprise: Karoo about to get fracked

19 September 2012

After some months of delays, the inevitable happened when South Africa’s Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs announced that a report prepared by, inter alia, representatives from the departments of Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs, Science and Technology, Energy and Mineral Resources, as well as from the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, the Council for Geoscience, Square Kilometre Array South Africa, the Water Research Commission and Eskom. Technical advice was also obtained from academics from the University of the Free State and the University of the Western Cape, concluded that ‘conditional approval’ be given for fracking activities in South Africa.

An Executive Summary has also been released.

Happy reading!


USA’s Clean Water Act 40 years old

19 September 2012

Its hard to believe that the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been around for so long – 1972 in fact.  It was vetoed by Nixon but Congress saw it through (a rare win for the environment).  The CWA is so much more than a set of laws: it is a veritable toolbox of procedures and protocols, including the provision of powers to punish transgressors.  As such it was way ahead, decades in fact, of any other comparable legislation.

Forty years later, the law’s legacy is hard to overstate. Not only did it empower the EPA to punish polluters, but it helped legitimize the young U.S. environmental movement at a key time in its history. River fires, toxic spills and other crises had cast a national spotlight on water pollution, spurring support for an aquatic sequel to the 1970 Clean Air Act. And unlike its precursor, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, this law sought to make all U.S. waters “fishable and swimmable” by a specific deadline (1985), and gave regulators the tools to actually follow through.

It has been described as one of the most successful sets of environmental laws ever compiled. Read more »

Social and political will needed to combat eutrophication: the case of Danny Jenkins

18 September 2012

Beware of algal scums

The following excerpt comes from an (unverified) article published by the Centre for Investigative Reporting:

One summer day two years ago, Danny and Laura Jenkins’ black Labrador retriever, Casey, returned from a swim in Ohio’s Grand Lake St. Marys carpeted in thick green slime and reeking. Danny Jenkins washed the dog off and, at some point, got some of the gunk in his left eye. Read more »