European Union waters almost half-way to good quality status

15 November 2012

In the European Union, efforts to reduce pollution in surface waters are progressing – but perhaps not quite as quickly as the EEA would hope.  In a report released this week we discover that the achievement of “good ecological status” has been achieved by just under half of the  104 000 rivers, 19 000 lakes, and 4000 transitional and coastal water bodies [this is a massive programme] reported by EU Member States.  The authors conclude that water bodies are generally improving, but not quickly enough to meet the targets set by the WFD [Water Framework Directive] – in fact only 52 % of water bodies are predicted to achieve good ecological status by 2015, according to Member States own plans. Read more »

Lake Okaro algal bloom getting worse

14 November 2012

While chillier weather may be slowing down the algal bloom in Allegheny Reservoir in New York, down in New Zealand the early bloom in Lake Okaro (south of Rotorua) is reportedly getting worse.  In Victoria, Australia, an algal watch has started early this season in the Gippsland Lakes, following last years major disruptions due to blooms.

Farmers in Britain are continung their efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff. Agriculture in the UK contributes an estimated 20% of phosphorus loads to rivers and streams, with 50% of British rivers still classed as High in terms of this element, but down from 70% a few years ago.  Good progress!


Conditions in Hartbeespoort Dam now three times worse than in 2005

13 November 2012

Come on in, the water’s lovely !

The infamous Hartbeespoort Dam is associated with high levels of eutrophication and algal blooms.  The source of the problem is the nutrients contained in wastewater effluents channelled down the Crocodile River to the dam.  Of these, phosphorus is the most manageable element and the one typically used to define the level of eutrophication in a waterbody.

The target concentration of phosphorus, i.e. the level at which, all other things being equal, algal blooms would be minimized, for dams such as Harties is 55 microgrammes per liter (yes, fifty-five).  Between the years 2000 and 2005, the average annual concentration of P in the dam was around 130 microgrammes per liter, or just in excess of double the target value, lowest in 2005 at just on 100 microgrammes per liter. Read more »

Environmental journalists undervalue eutrophication threat: thesis

12 November 2012

Eutrophication, i.e. the pollution of surface waters by nutrients originating – in the main – from wastewater effluents and agriculture, poses a major, if not the most significant threat, to global water resources.  The cause and effect relationship is not new – in fact it has been around for decades, steadily getting worse.  Very few countries are not affected.  Few countries have done much about the problem, at least not until it became intolerable.   Yet, strangely, the topic is anathema to most environmental journalists and informed media reporting on the topic is very rare.

This week a Finnish student is in the final phase of submission of his doctoral thesis which examines why media coverage of major environmental threats, notably climate change and eutrophication, are so devalued by the media. Read more »

Harare residents chewing on their own P…..

11 November 2012

A few days ago Droplets reported on the statement by the South African Department of Water Affairs about the possible need to recycle wastewater back into the drinking water system.  Well, given the level of infrastructure decay and skills loss that has crippled a goodly portion of South Africa’s ability to service its technological needs, the situation in Harare (Zimbabwe) may be what we are facing! Read more »

Algal blooms slow to leave Kansas lakes

11 November 2012

We are rushing towards mid-November – the weather is hotting up here in the southern Hemisphere and in the north we would expect that it’s getting chillier – a process that plays a big role in ending the summer cycle of growth for algae such as cyanobacteria (not always though, there are many polluted lakes that have permanent blue-green algal blooms, or at least a distinct presence thereof all through the year). Read more »

Wisconsin’s Dane County to fund phosphorus management initiative

10 November 2012

The message is slowly getting through that if we want to have nice, healthy lakes, then we need to stop fooling around with cosmetic attention to the symptoms of eutrophication, and do something about the causes.

This week the annual gathering of the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) takes place in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin.  Today also sees the announcement by the Clean Lakes Alliance of a US$77 million programme to tackle phosphorus loadings originating from agriculture.  This is a “tackle at source” approach, not the “lets let the nutrients get into the lake and then scratch our heads about it” scenario.

Go Dane County!

Experimental Lakes Area may be sold to private organization

10 November 2012

A while ago Droplets reported on the Canadian governments decision to terminate funding for the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) , one of the few global ‘field laboratories’ for lake research.  Rumours have it that the government would transfer the unit for the token cost of $1 to a private buyer.  Controversy has now erupted around the issue of whether the ELA should stay in government hands or risk losing its independence if owned by a ‘private organization’.  More to the point, the loss of direct feed of findings to government decision-makers would be a big negative. Read more »

Australian lakes on algal High Alert

9 November 2012

Australians in the Myall Lakes area of New South Wales have been warned about the appearance of an algal bloom in the Bombah Broadwater.  In addition, the The Boolambayte Lake part of the Myall Lakes also remains on a high level blue-green algal alert. Read more »

Costs of the Hartbeespoort Dam project provided

7 November 2012

  1. Wow, altogether a snappy response to a recent request for information on the Hartbeespoort Dam project – the Department of Water Affairs is evidently of the opinion that they are on strong ground here – vs the reality of the very thin ice that more correctly describes the situation.  They state, in the response below, that the project has definitely improved conditions in the dam – but yet again there is no evidence to back this up.  Other studies, conducted more responsibly, indicate that the conditions in the dam are many times worse than they were as recently as 2005.

Read more »