Specialising in
Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

What are the merits of fracking?

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

Test results indicate that at least one common fracking chemical has contaminated drinking water in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming.

How strange it is that a department DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) which ironically shares a ministerial portfolio with Water Affairs (DWEA) should suggest that fracking be given a chance and saying that there was “merit” in carrying out some hydraulic fracturing.  There were no merits in what was reported though the report did mention one demerit in what they had said viz – “the avoidance of the contamination of fresh water resources” in the Karoo.  So what in fact are the merits of fracking?  As there were no meritorious things mentioned we have a chance to look at some of the negative things.


  • Shell’s employees are on record as having said that they wish to burn the methane gas produced from fracking wells on their pad sites.  These pads will be on somebodies farmlands, and they plan to generate electricity from the burning of the gas thus sending millions of tons of carbon dioxide per annum into the air.  This will supplement the CO2 already generated in South Africa from the burning of coal.  The question should be asked why use fossil fuels to generate electricity? Have they not heard that economists agree that it is now less expensive to generate electricity with renewables such as from photo voltaic panels i.e. solar energy than by using fossil fuels.  Continue reading What are the merits of fracking?

Drinking water contaminated by fracking

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 May 2011

Methane leaks are contaminating drinking water near shale gas drilling sites in the eastern United States, scientists said on Tuesday, placing a further question mark over this fast-growing energy source.

Shale gas carries a greater carbon footprint than oil, coal and conventional gas, using current extraction techniques

Scientists tested water samples taken from 68 private wells in five counties in Pennsylvania and New York to explore accusations that “hydro-fracking” – a contested technique to extract shale gas – contaminated groundwater.

Methane was found in 85 percent of the samples, and at sites within a kilometre of active hydraulic-fracturing operations, levels were 17 times higher than in wells far from such operations, said the study by researchers at Duke University in North Carolina.

“In these rural areas, almost everybody has a well. They are using the groundwater for some purpose – they are using it for drinking, for their livestock, for agriculture,” lead author Stephen Osborn told AFP.

However, little is known about the health impacts of consuming methane in drinking water.

“We were surprised, and we have spoken with many health officials,” he said.

“There is really no literature that addresses that particular issue – the physiological response – is methane really non-reactive in the body? What are the effects of consuming high concentrations of methane?” Continue reading Drinking water contaminated by fracking

Farmers adopt ‘climate-smart’ agriculture

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 November 2010

Farmers around the world are adopting new ways of producing food that both help cope with climate change and reduce farming’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new FAO website on ‘climate-smart’ agriculture published today.

Rice is the 2nd largest emitter of the greenhouse gas - methane

Burkina Faso’s Yatenga province is being reclaimed through the use of an improved version of traditional “planting pits” known as zaï – now lands which were once barely productive are achieving yields five times greater than before.

In northern Cameroon, traditional varieties of millet, sorghum and maize had low resistance to water scarcity and production there typically suffered in the face of lowered rainfalls and droughts. Starting in 2006, Cameroon’s national agriculture research institute developed improved varieties of these crops, and with support from FAO established farmer seed enterprises and got them into farmers’ fields, where today they are producing good yields in spite of unfavourable conditions.

In Mozambique, smallholder farmers are getting paid for sequestering carbon through the adoption of various agrofoestry practices and reducing deforestation and degradation of forest lands.

Farmers in Vietnam are being encouraged to use special “digesters” that transform farm waste into biogas used for daily cooking and lighting needs and also create nutrient-rich slurry for fertilizing fields.

And on Bohol Island, in the Philippines, improved infrastructure has helped improve water management and stabilized rice production, while rice farming techniques that use less water were introduced, stretching local supplies still further – and reducing production of greenhouse gases in the paddies.

“A shift to climate-smart agriculture helps advance several important goals: doing so will not only help shield farmers from the adverse effects of climate change and offer a way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester atmospheric carbon, but can also improve farm yields and household incomes,” said Alexander Mueller, FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources. Continue reading Farmers adopt ‘climate-smart’ agriculture

Science of Climate Change is Strong

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 March 2010

In recent months, e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom and errors in one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports have caused a flurry of questions about the validity of climate change science.

These issues have led several states, including Texas, to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide (also known as greenhouse gases) are a threat to human health.

However, Texas’ challenge to the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon dioxide contains very little science. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott admitted that the state did not consult any climate scientists, including the many here in the state, before putting together the challenge to the EPA. Instead, the footnotes in the document reveal that the state relied mainly on British newspaper articles to make its case.

Contrary to what one might read in newspapers, the science of climate change is strong. Our own work and the immense body of independent research conducted around the world leaves no doubt regarding the following key points: Continue reading Science of Climate Change is Strong

Methane Leak In Arctic Shelf

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 March 2010

A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research […]