Finally, the start of some guidelines for glyphosates in South Africa…

27 January 2013

Glyphosate-based herbicides are commonly used or overused – and have been contentious in the aquatic sciences for a long time.  Their presence in surface waters has been linked to all sorts of evils, not least their being a potential source of phosphate for toxic cyanobacteria (Google this relationship if you are interested). Read more »

Toxic algal blooms at both ends of the temperature spectrum

27 January 2013

Here’s a newcomer to Droplets CyanoAlert (and another indication of an early spring in the northern Hemisphere):  An algal warning has been posted for Wilderness Lake (Maple Valley), southeast of Seattle in Washington.  The children in that part of the world must be tough as (today) it’s 6 deg C out, yet the press report warns (correctly under ‘normal’ conditions) that children playing at the water’s edge, along with pets like dogs, are the most at risk.  Glad my parents didn’t send me out to play at the edge of the lake during winter! Read more »

More evidence of unwanted muck in our muds…

25 January 2013

Research from Greece, announced by the European Commission, has found worryingly high concentrations of endocrine disrupting compounds in marine sediments.

Reduction and prevention of chemical pollution and subsequent harm to marine ecosystems is a key aim of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive #1. EDCs can enter the marine environment via sewage, industrial waste water or indirectly through watercourses. Once present in the ecosystem, EDCs often take a long time to decay and can cause feminisation, decreased fertility or reduced immune function in marine organisms. Read more »

What’s in a name: Lake Unpleasant

18 January 2013

Ironic how so many lakes don’t live up to their names as a result of algal problems:  last year we saw that Clear Lake was actually quite turbid, Grand Lake was Not-So-Grand and Blue Lake was more blue-green than simply blue.  Although its still quite chilly over in Washington State (where lots of reports came from Anderson Lake during 2012), Lake Pleasant has become a bit un-pleasant – where West Clallam County environmental health officials are cautioning West End residents to keep themselves and their pets out of the lake until tests can be done on what is thought to be blue-green algae. Read more »

The Freshwater and Biodiversity Crisis

16 January 2013

Yes, the “and” in the title is deliberate.  The world is on the verge of a crisis that is endangering both human water security and freshwater biodiversity.  That crisis is the rapid disappearance and degradation of one of the most endangered global habitats – freshwater ecosystems. Read more »

Every South African has a hand on the nation’s moral compass

16 January 2013

In my opinion the best social blog post for 2013 has already been written – this being Cape Town’s David Moseley’s contribution on 8 January, entitled “We all killed Burry Stander” – following the tragic death of yet another cyclist on South African roads.  Moseley admonishes that, because so many South Africans express a wilful disregard for road rules and etiquette, our collective arrogance (and overwhelming, mind-numbing stupidity) makes each and every road user complicit in the daily carnage that occurs on our roads. Read more »

Feeding waterfowl is bad for them and their habitat

15 January 2013

Feeding waterfowl does more harm than good (Photo: Bill Harding)

I have lost count of how many lakes and ponds I have consulted on where algal blooms had become entrenched as a result of ducks, geese and other waterfowl being “fed” by locals hurling in their stale bread and other bits and pieces – you know, the moms who take their kids to the pond in the afternoon, give them a bag of bread chunks and then let the children entertain themselves while the mothers catch up on the local gossip? Read more »

Mining of oil sands contaminates water sources

11 January 2013

Quite a few years ago I attended an ASLO meeting in Alberta, Canada, at a time when the next big thing in oil production was the extraction of oil from tar sands in the Athabasca region.  The debate was a lot similar to that around the issue of fracking, denial on one side and lots of concern and worry about environmental impacts on the other.  However, like the current E-tolling saga in South Africa – the debate will eventually die off and the mining or tolling will simply go ahead – i.e. Big Capital wears down the opposition over time and get their way in the end. Read more »

Research shows the way to fix Iowa’s eutrophication problem

7 January 2013

The US state of Iowa featured a lot in these posts during 2012.  Many Iowan lakes are enriched with nutrients, a lot of which comes from agriculture – not just suspected of coming from agriculture, actually shown to be.  So, how to deal with a big portion of the problem is clear – throw effort at the polluted agric runoff and get it down to acceptable levels.  OK, it may not be that simple as a press report today suggests:

First, unlike the approach used for cities, the strategy continues to rely on all-voluntary farm conservation programs, which have fallen short of protecting our waters in the past. Even though research clearly shows significantly increasing farmer participation in conservation programs is critical for success of the plan, the document does not set timetables or goals to ensure that this will happen. Read more »

Russia to shake-up its university system

7 January 2013

Not everyone has the aptitude to become a university graduate.  While everyone should have an equal opportunity to earn the right to a university education – countries should not create the impression that everyone should have a go at trying to do so. Read more »