DA has quality of SA’s water resources on its radar

15 November 2015

Aquatic plants are very important stabilizers of waterbodies (Photo: Bill Harding)

Water quality is fundamentally important to South Africa’s future (Photo: Bill Harding)

As someone who has beaten the water quality drum for many years (search this blog for ‘water crisis’ articles) it is always pleasing when politicians recognize the pivotal role that water quality holds for South Africa.  This topic is currently receiving increased attention due to the very severe drought conditions currently being experienced.

The Democratic Alliance has been somewhat quiet on water quality issues since the days when Gareth Morgan held the portfolio.  Today, however, the Sunday Times (November 15, 2015, pg 18, see following post) carried an opinion piece by no less a DA member than its leader, Mr Mmusi Maimane, entitled “So little water, so much poor management of it“.  To my knowledge, addressing such a topic is a first for any leader of a political party in this country!

The article reads, inter alia, that “[to] make matters worse, the quality of water is also declining. Our municipal waste-water system…is under extreme pressure, with as many [sic] as 90% of waste-water treatment works dysfunctional“.  Furthermore, “…possibly up to two-thirds of our national stored water resources in dams and watercourses is eutrophic“.  Here Mr Maimane is referring to the legacy of inaction on the level of wastewater treatment required to prevent South African reservoirs from becoming eutrophic, a legacy that persists from the previous regime of government (see review article here for details).

Mr Maimane correctly notes that, the dire circumstances notwithstanding, there is still hope for mitigation.  What remains is for the ANC government to stop denying that there is a crisis, stop focussing solely on water quantity and to move demonstrably towards the application of more appropriate science and technology for the management of South African surface waters.

(Bill Harding is a South African aquatic scientist with a long history of experience in eutrophication and toxic algae.  He is a Certified Lake Manager – a USA certification and is the only person so registered in South Africa).

RIP Sarel Pieterse

15 September 2014

Sarel Pieterse

Sarel Pieterse

Today Droplets mourns the loss of a former long-time colleague and friend, Sarel Pieterse – Chief Water Chemist at the City of Cape Town’s Scientific Services Directorate.  Sarel was one of those rare people who always had time to assist others and share his knowledge, no matter how busy he was – all the while displaying a subtle and infectious sense of humour.  His passing is utterly premature and South Africa’s water management fraternity is indeed much poorer for his having left it.

Rest in Peace Sarel.

Happy New Year from Droplets

31 December 2013

Whatever you may be doing, Droplets wishes you all the very best for 2014!  Looks like its going to be a challenging year.  Thanks to all who have ensured that our readership continues to grow consistently – despite having lost our funding for the CyanoAlert service!

If you want to do something meaningful during 2014, please adopt a homeless dog!

If you want to do something meaningful during 2014, please adopt a homeless dog!

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South Africa to host international conference on toxic algae

27 November 2012

South Africa has a very proud history in the field of algae and their toxins. Extending back many decades, a substantial amount of the groundwork in this field of science was undertaken in this country – documented in a review by Harding and Paxton for the Water Research Commission.

Next year (2013) will see South Africa’s now very small community of cyanobacterial scientists play host to the 9th International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria (ICTC).  The conference title, Living with Toxigenic Cyanobacteria – is provocative and underscores the risks associated with the ecological phenomenon commonly known as ‘toxic algal blooms’.  It acknowledges the fact that this symptom of eutrophication is not going to be resolved any time soon and that there is a fundamental need for science and management to integrate more closely in addressing the causes and consequences.

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 »

Water Crisis threats taken on by industry

13 March 2012

Droplets is increasingly gratified that the warnings about the impending water crisis that we and others have consistently made during the past few years, are finally being heeded.  While our Water Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, attends the World Water Forum meetings dealing with the global water crisis, calls are being made for South African industries to act before it is too late [see WWF6 Website].

About 85% of water-intensive users among the JSE’s Top 100 companies are exposed to water-related risk, with 70% believing that their operations could be directly affected in the near term, a report revealed on Monday. Read more »

DH Environmental reaches 600th contract milestone

13 February 2012

DHEC reaches new heights! (Photo: Bill Harding)

With the commissioning of three new projects this week, DH Environmental Consulting has flown past the milestone of 600 contracts!  Number 600 came with an appointment to undertaken an assessment of the Saratoga Fishing Lodge development near Greyton.

Droplets water quality theme for 2012

10 January 2012

Over the next few weeks, Droplets will be posting views and opinion on water quality issues – based on the theme “Whats in your water….?”  The purpose of this topic will be to inform readers as to the not-so-nice things which, depending on where you live, maybe present in your tap, stream or lake water.

Upbeat about 2012

19 December 2011

Black-headed heron looks forward to 2012! (Photo: Bill Harding)

This black-headed heron is upbeat about what 2012 will bring him.  DH Environmental will be directing the re-establishment of a Western Cape wetland lost to farming a century ago – and which will provide a range of habitat for a variety of birdlife.

This yellow billed kite seemed happy about the news as well! (Photo: Bill Harding)

Drain and dredge a viable lake restoration technique

9 November 2011

The drained Echo Park Lake being cleaned out

Los Angeles’s Echo Park Lake is no longer a lake, at least for the next few months. Workers drained the local landmark as part of a two year, $65 million renovation and cleaning project.  Plans call for the city to add wetlands around parts of the lake which will  reduce the growth of algae and cut down on pollution. Read more »