Loskop Dam water deteriorating rapidly

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 31 March 2011

By: Tamir Kahn

Farmers who depend on the Loskop Dam to irrigate their crops can breathe a sigh of relief after scientists found the water poses no immediate threat to human health, which means exports of fruit and vegetables are safe — at least for now.

CSIR warns that the water quality in the Loskop Dam is deteriorating rapidly

“It’s a great relief,” said the Loskop Irrigation Board’s Diek Engelbrecht yesterday.

Farmers have been so worried about the declining water quality in the heavily polluted Olifants River, which flows into the dam, that the irrigation board commissioned a study from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the University of Stellenbosch. Farmers were concerned that if their crops became contaminated with heavy metals or pathogens, their produce would no longer make export grade.

The dam provides water to 16000ha of agricultural land, and supports a European export market worth about R1bn a year.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) last year said its members were worried that polluted water would jeopardise their livelihood. If they lost their export markets, they would have to dump produce locally and prices would fall, with knock-on effects for farmers who rely on domestic customers, it said. Continue reading

Recycled water will create employment

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 February 2011

If SA was able to recycle its total national water resource 1,7 times over by 2035, the country’s unemployment problem would be solved, International Water Resources Association vice-president Anthony Turton said yesterday.

We will create jobs and lose them again if we don’t recycle our water. Photo: Reuters

SA’s government is battling a 24% unemployment rate (4,1-million people), as measured by Statistics SA in the last quarter of last year, and has promised, in its New Growth Path economic plan, to create 5- million jobs by 2020.

While the ability to recycle water would not of itself create jobs, without this ability the necessary preconditions for the kind of economic growth that would create jobs would not be in place, Dr Turton told Business Day after his presentation to the inaugural Water and Energy Forum which ended in Sandton yesterday.

“We can incentivise and do whatever we like, but we will create jobs and lose them again if we don’t recycle our water…. In order to sustain growth we need 62-billion cubic metres of water and we have 3 8- billion cubic metres now,” he said.

However, for the first time in history SA’s economic and infrastructure development was constrained by environmental considerations, Dr Turton said in his presentation. SA’s water resources were increasingly compromised by growing demand and looming pollution problems from decades of mining that did not take the environment into consideration. Continue reading

An Eskom anti-green future for South Africa

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 14 September 2010

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor
Pioneer of Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and winner of a WWF Green Trust Award

The quantity of tons of ‘stuff’ that will exit South African power stations is so huge that it is beyond imagination.

Kendal Power Station. Eskom is the biggest single consumer of water in SA

The Regime of the day is also the owner of Eskom.  This body maintains its monopoly on the supply of electricity by supplying this commodity mainly from a resource of coal.  Our honourable minister must be made aware of some of the facts surrounding the coal that her coal-fired power stations do for us and our future generations…

  • Of the top-25 highest CO2 emitting power generating plants worldwide, South Africa has three stations.
  • South Africa is number eight of the top 50 countries with the highest CO2 emitting power sectors.
  • I have no figures for South Africa, but in the USA 67% of the sulphur dioxide emissions are from power generation.  Just in case the minister has not had any chemistry lessons, sulphur dioxide does not sound so terribly bad if you say these quickly.  SO2 (sulphur dioxide) when mixed with water forms H2SO4 (Sulphuric acid).  This stuff is what acid rain contains.
  • In April this year the World Bank approved a loan of three thousand seven hundred and fifty million Dollars ($3.75 billion) to build a dirty coal fired power station at Medupi.
  • At the same time the World Bank approved a loan of a mere $260 million for wind and solar power.
  • After Kisile and Medupi come on line 94% of all electricity generated in South Africa will be generated by coal fired power stations.  The sum total of all the coal fired power stations in South Africa will deliver a cumulative emission into the atmosphere of:
    • Sulphur dioxide, SO2 3 360 000 tons
    • NOx  3 400 000 tons
    • Carbon Dioxide CO2 1 243 000 000 tons
    • Particulate matter: 168000 tons
    • Hydrocarbons: 73920 tons.
    • CO: (carbon Monoxide) 241900 tons
    • Ash: 42 000 000 tons
    • Sludge: 64 800 000 tons.
    • Arsenic:  34 tons.
    • Lead:  17 tons
    • Cadmium: 600 kilograms.
    • Uranium and many other toxic metals.

It is useful for our honourable minister to know that wind generation produces none of the toxic substances at all, and uses no water, whereas, coal-fired power stations use 1.32 litres of water per kilowatt hour of electricity generated.  The sum total of water required for all of the power stations is six times the equivalent volume of the Vaal dam. This makes Eskom the biggest single consumer of water in country.

The quantity of tons of ‘stuff’ that will exit South African power stations is so huge that it is beyond imagination. I wish therefore to provide our honourable minister an analogy:  if the sum total of all the toxic substances listed here, emanating from all of the coal powered stations in South Africa, were to be placed into one ton vehicles nose to tail, these would stretch around the world at the equator 212 times every year.

Acidic spill halts mine production

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 July 2010

Zijin Mining Group was ordered to halt production after discharges from its copper mine polluted a river and reservoir in Fujian province, the China Business News reported on Friday.

Acidic copper water spilled into the Ting river affecting water supplies for some 60,000 people.

The leak of wastewater containing acidic copper from its Zijinshan Copper Mine spilled into the Ting river and killed or poisoned thousands of fish early this month, affecting water supplies for some 60,000 people.

The newspaper said environment ministry and provincial officials ordered the shutdown, adding that the company needed a major overhaul of its system to safeguard against spills. It did not say how long output would be halted.

Zijing executives were not immediately available for comment.

Trading in Zijin shares was suspended on Monday, and the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily on Thursday sharply criticized the company for initially keeping quiet about the spill, which began on July 3 and continued for nearly 24 hours.

Three executives at Zijing were detained by local public securities bureau earlier this week as a probe into the accident continues, the China Business News said.

China has been battling to control the damage to its environment caused by more than three decades of breakneck economic growth, from acid rain to desertification.

The China Daily on Thursday cited a survey in the booming southern province of Guangdong as saying 40 percent of its soil was contaminated by heavy metals, partly caused by the more than 3,000 mines operating there.

The government has also become increasingly worried about public anger at environmental problems, especially pollution.

By: Fang Yan and Jason Subler
Source: Reuters Africa

Water is our energy constraint, not coal

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 March 2010

Professor Anthony Turton, vice-president of the International Water Resource Association, explains how to beat the water crisis.

The media is abuzz with talk about the developmental state so I have tried to understand this rhetoric in the context of water.

If we think of national economic growth as an “S” curve on a graph, on which the vertical axis represents value and the horizontal axis time, then we can see that early development is slow as technology is mobilised. This manifests as a flat part of the curve. As the economy kicks into overdrive, the curve climbs rapidly, such as happened in South Africa during the latter part of the 20th century. This growth slows down, either because of external constraints, such as reduced global commodity demand, or as a result of internal constraints. It is my hypothesis that the South African economy has reached the upper part of this first “S” curve, of which two limitations are the most apparent from a biophysical perspective.

The first constraint is energy, which we all know about. The second is water, which few of us know about, but which is starting to become manifest in the public domain. Significantly, water is our energy constraint, not coal. It takes 1kg of coal and 1.35kg of water to produce one kilowatt hour of electricity with the technology used by Eskom.

So what are we to do? Continue reading