GroundTruth Consulting shines a light!

2 November 2011

Simplicity of the BenthoTorch measurement (Source: bbe Moldaenke)

Dr Mark Graham, well-known river ecologist from GroundTruth Consulting in Pietermaritzburg, has acquired the revolutionary new BenthoTorch.  The BenthoTorch, made by bbe Moldaenke of Germany and represented in South Africa by DH Environmental, can measure and distinguish the chlorophyll signatures of green, diatom and cyanobacterial algae in a single measurement. Read more »

WetlandViews to start soon!

5 September 2011

Photo: Bill Harding

This blog will shortly commence a new insert, WetlandViews.  This will deal with interesting wetland issues and happenings from around the world.  As with CyanoAlert, the purpose is to provide a medium of education about issues that affect our lives and our future.

Both features, CyanoAlert and WetlandViews, are sponsored by DH Environmental Consulting.

DH Environmental’s contributions to WRC-funded science

2 September 2011

Sundowners in the Kruger Park (Photo: Linda Harding)

This week the Water Research Commission (WRC) is celebrating 40 years of existence. Since the meeting started [I did not attend], I have had – and continue to receive – several queries as to why none of the WRC projects that I have undertaken were showcased, or why I was not invited to speak on all or any of them. I guess the best place for the answer would be to ask the WRC themselves – I have my suspicions, but there it is. Read more »

Berries, Bats and Blue-green algae in False Bay

9 June 2011

Sheila Jeftha (FBWPG) thanks Bill Harding for his talk

Is there an environmental component to the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Motor Neuron Disease, Parkinsons, Alzheimers or even Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?  Today I presented the evidence, which suggests that this hypothesis may well be true, to the members of the False Bay Women’s Probus Group. Read more »

DHEC surveys links between toxic algae and motor neuron disease

29 May 2011

In a first for South Africa, Dr Bill Harding from DH Environmental Consulting (DHEC) will conduct a research survey to test for links between cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and neurodegenerative diseases (Motor Neuron Disease, MND; Parkinsons Dementia Complex, PDC;  and Alzheimers). Read more »

DH Environmental Consulting on Twitter

15 May 2011

The joys of twittering (Photo: Bill Harding)

We are expanding our social media presence by establishing ourselves on Twitter. Our blog has proven extremely successful, doubling its unique visitor tally month on month. We receive, however, a great many queries from people outside of the water industry and scientific realm and have contracted the social media company, The Squashed Tomato to manage this new venture.

You can follow us @DHEnviroConsult.

South African Diatom Taxonomy launched on the internet!

11 May 2011

South Africa's diatom key launched this week!

Version 2 of the taxonomic key to South African diatoms, produced by Bill Harding and Jonathan Taylor,  was launched this week on the LucidCentral website.  This is the first diatom key to be launched on the web.  Using diatoms to assess water quality and ecological condition of aquatic environments is probably the most powerful biomonitoring tool available for this purpose.  Because of the cosmopolitan nature of many diatoms, making this key available on the internet was the logical choice to make it available to as many users as possible.  Stand-alone copies can also be sourced from DH Environmental Consulting.  The earlier version of the key, plus the supporting manuals, are now in use around the world!

Readers of this blog will recall the strange and controversial decision by Water Affairs and the Water Resource Commission to not continue funding of this initiative (see here and here and here).  The project remains stalled at a critical stage and we continue to seek alternative forms of funding in order to continue the research and the upgrading of the taxonomic key.

See here for some earlier reporting on the development of the South African Diatom Assessment Protocol by Bill Harding and Jonathan Taylor.

AlgaeTorch tested in Cape Town

15 April 2011

Measuring algal chlorophyll at Rietvlei

Yesterday saw the testing of the bbe-AlgaeTorch at 8 locations in and around Cape Town.  The instrument performed to specification and produced excellent results from replicate samples at each site (see Table).  Moreover, it was possible to test 8 locations within three hours!  The testing was able to show the presence and contribution of cyanobacteria in lakes such as Zeekoevlei, Princess Vlei and Rietvlei, as well as measure the very low or zero levels in the clean (low nutrient or plant-stabilized) systems such as Little Princess Vlei. Read more »

Why do we have a Water Crisis ?

3 February 2011

Calf affected by cyanotoxins

South Africa has a Water (Quality) Crisis for the following reasons (not in any particular order):

1. Thirty-five percent (35%) of  our dams exceed acceptable limits of nutrient enrichment, creating a situation in which potentially-toxic algal blooms occur with increasing frequency.  The National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS 2004) lists a higher figure, forty-two percent (42%).  Most of these dams are in Gauteng.

2. The main source of the nutrient enrichment is from phosphorus contained in wastewater (sewage effluents), as well as contributions from urban runoff, agriculture and industry.

3. Stripping of phosphorus from wastewater to ecologically-acceptable levels is not yet practiced in South Africa.

Read more »

Can the Water Crisis be bailed out?

7 January 2011

Can the water crisis be bailed out?

The findings of the Commission into last year’s Deepwater Horizon blowout concluded that, ultimately, the disaster was due to a single failure: Management.  When decisions were made, no one was considering the risk.

The same risk assessment applies to our water crisis – managers do not see the bigger picture and see the dangers of sustained inaction (as opposed to the much touted and perhaps an oxymoron, sustainable development).  This has been going on for a long time

One has to ask, what are the regulator’s advisors saying?  Are the advisors perhaps the same people who advised us into this mess in the first place?  If so then they are not likely to be keen to expose their own ineptitude.   There seems to be a marked resistance to engaging with newer, relevant skills and thinking.  Coupled to this is the problem that the path between decision makers and scientific opinion has become so long and convoluted – as a consequence of skills loss, inappropriate affirmative action and other issues, that it is essentially not viable.  Managers and decision makers have no ready avenue or support structure on which to base their conclusions.

Now, more than ever, is the need for a non-aligned colloquium of residual skills and knowledge. The DWA has been reluctant to take up this challenge and industry will need to underpin such an approach.  If not, then the costs of production are going to become punitive for many manufacturers.