Wastewater (sewage) effluents are the major threat to South African reservoirs (Photo: Bill Harding)
A pleasing development this week has been the long-overdue acknowledgement that water quality is the ‘elephant in the room’, insofar as the optimal future use of South African water resources is concerned (see article here). Of course this is not a new discovery – the lack of attention to water quality issues has been bemoaned for a very long time (a simple search of this blog will reveal many related articles and cautions over the past five years) – yet the warnings have been ignored or now seemingly considered to have been part of a ‘debate’. On the debate issue, however, no formal collegiate interactions have been initiated, other than a very short-lived one-day attempt by the Water Research Commission a couple of years ago. Some who may consider the ‘debate’ to now be over, have themselves been instrumental in denying the existence of a water quality problem for a long time.
So, if the attitude is now changing, this is very good news – especially that the responsible national department is now apparently moving towards developing an Integrated Water Quality Management initiative – lets hope they don’t waste any more time reinventing wheels. While fingers are being pointed at a ‘piecemeal’ approach to the problem by the Dept of Water and Sanitation, one can only ask why their consultant advisors did not alert them to the dangers of ignoring water quality issues for so long?
FACT: With inadequate quantities of freshwater, development in South Africa will be severely constrained. If the quality of these limited supplies is also compromised, prospects for sustainable development effectively disappear. These simple truths have been clear and evident in South Africa for several decades.
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The De Beers Pass route is essentially untransformed and characterized by pastoral tranquillity and seclusion…
During 2013 we (DH Environmental Consulting, DHEC) undertook a significant body of work assessing numerous wetlands along the route of the proposed De Beers Pass N3 Toll Road (DBPR) between Warden and Keeversfontein. Our final report, detailing our assessment of the impacts that would be incurred by the new road, was submitted in October 2013. We have not received any feedback thereon since that time.
We have recently learnt, via reviews of our and other specialist environmental impact assessment work conducted for the proposed new road, that our findings were not carried over into the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) or for the Draft Integrated Water Use Licence application (DIWULA) (these reviews may be found here). One of the reviews concludes as follows:
The Draft EIA Report does not adequately reflect the findings of specialist studies. There have been material omissions and in general specialist findings have been watered down, with the exception of those relating to economic impacts. This is particularly true of those studies which show significant adverse impacts – these have been summarised to the extent that their significance is under-stated and preferred mitigation measures involving avoidance of impacts discarded. Accordingly, the obligation to conduct work in an objective manner as required in terms of regulation 18(c) of the 2006 NEMA EIA Regulations has not been achieved. Economic benefits, which are beneficial to the application have been fully stated (e.g. Chapter 11 of the Draft EIA Report) whereas the same cannot be said for significant adverse impacts as is demonstrated by some examples in Table 2 in this review.
DH Environmental was not provided with a copy of the DEIR or the DIWULA. Had we been, we would have strongly contested the manner in which our findings were not carried over into these documents.
We are also extremely concerned to learn that, at public meetings, which we were not invited to attend or present our work at, the impression was allegedly created that all of the project specialists concurred with the content of the presentations being made by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP). Furthermore that, inter alia, the presentation of findings by a colleague wetland specialist were prevented from being shown at the public meetings (see report found here). Other alleged client intervention in the process is also documented. We also find, from one of the reviews, that the opinion of the client – to wit casting doubt on the specialist findings – were included in the EIR. This is wholly inappropriate and suggests a new low for EIAs.
A summary of our findings, which indicate the proposed route to be ill-advised, are provided below. We strongly recommend that oversight by specialists become a mandatory component of the EIA and associated licensing processes – this to ensure that their findings have been correctly interpreted and included. We can only wonder as to how many other EIAs have followed this practice and got away with it.
In our opinion, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the EIA process for the DBPR is sufficiently flawed for it to be set aside as being materially deficient. We hereby disassociate ourselves with the process that appears to have been followed in deriving the DEIR and the DIWULA.
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From time to time people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.”
They don’t understand the distance traveled, time spent, or costs involved for “Just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “Just a dog.” Many hours have passed with my only company being “Just a dog,” and not once have I felt slighted. Some of my saddest moments were brought about by “Just a dog.” In those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “Just a dog” provided comfort and purpose to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “Just a dog,” you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “Just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.
For me and folks like me, it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog”brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday people can understand it’s not “Just the dog.” It’s the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “Just a man” or “Just a woman.”
So the next time you hear the phrase “Just a dog,” smile, because they “just don’t understand.”