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.
“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