Rietvlei water quality timebomb still ticking… how much longer before it explodes …

27 March 2014

A murky future for Rietvlei? (Photo: Bill Harding)

A murky future for Rietvlei? (Photo: Bill Harding)

For quite some time now the problems of oestrogenic and other chemical compounds in Rietvlei, one of Pretoria’s potable water supply dams have been muttered about.  Too long in fact. A recent Water Research Commission report (not specifically referenced), which included the analysis of samples contributed by my recent three-year project at this dam, has now been more overt – as reported on Monday in the Pretoria East Rekord.  Actually, this should be headline news for all the Sunday dailies if we, as a country, were less focussed on toll roads, court cases and how much has been spent on the Presidents house.  Far greater sums are being wasted in the name of water resource management – and achieving very little.  The Rietvlei scenario seems to be an echo of similar issued rumoured to occur in Mpumulanga and elsewhere.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 11.39.05South Africa now possesses pitifully-few skills and experience in reservoir (dam) management, an issue decried by Droplets for years.  Residual skills are being ignored while the puerile efforts of some claiming to be experts waste time and money.  When the decision to act on matters threatening the quality of our stored water resources is ever taken, it will take a few years to re-skill the Department of Water Affairs in this field.  Simply bringing in overseas experts, at great cost, will not work.  They will first need to learn to understand our systems – quite different from those in Europe and North America.  Offers of help from local scientists continue to be ignored.  Why?

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