City warns residents not to swim in Westlake River

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 April 2010

Recent water samples taken of the Westlake River have confirmed the presence of blue-green algae, as well as the presence of the toxins associated with it.


Due to its potential health risks, Dr Ivan Bromfield, Executive Director: City Health, would like to warn the general public of the Kirstenhof area, as well as recreational users who frequent the public open space along Westlake River, to exercise caution and avoid contact with the visible algae blooms until further notice.

This type of algae does not generally occur in flowing rivers. It has been established that a dam upstream has had a blue-green algae outbreak and therefore water flowing over the dam wall into the Westlake River carries with it blue-green algal cells. Investigations are also being undertaken downstream at Zandvlei since this river flows into the vlei. The saline conditions in the vlei should help to cause the algae to die off.

“Blue-green algae and the toxins it releases can present a health hazard for those swimming or playing in the river, especially children and pets. We recommend that people stay out of the water and keep their dogs out of the river as well,” Bromfield said. Continue reading

Lake Victoria turning green with algae blooms

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 March 2010

Pollution in parts of Lake Victoria is worsening so fast that soon it may be impossible to treat its waters enough to provide drinking water for the Ugandan capital, a senior official said on Monday.

Satellite image of Lake Victoria. Water quality has been adversely affected by pollution and drought.

The lake, east Africa’s largest by area, also supplies water to millions in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, and supports fishing communities in all three countries.

Gerald Sawula, deputy executive director of Uganda’s state-run National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), told Reuters that the lake’s Murchison Bay, the northerly inlet on which Kampala sits, was becoming a “dead” zone. “It is a real crisis, the water has turned completely green with algae blooms swamping the whole place,” he said.

“The water has become so thick from effluent that is being discharged directly into the lake because the wetlands that used to filter it have all been destroyed by developers.” Fisheries experts say heavy concentrations of pollutants are killing certain fish species. “As more algal blooms, phosphates, nitrates, heavy metals and faecal matter all pile into the lake, it’s going to be harder and harder to clean the water,” Sawula said.

“It’s very obvious that in future the National Water and Sewerage Corporation won’t be able to treat water from Lake Victoria to a level safe enough for domestic consumption.”

The local daily New Vision reported on Monday that the utility was considering extending intake pipes far out into the lake as pollution near the shore exceeds treatable levels.

Development analysts say the pollution problem will only worsen as Kampala’s population, estimated at 2.5 million, expands fast, straining its fragile and perennially underfinanced waste-handling capacity.

Source: Reuters Africa