Half of Durban’s rivers okay

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 July 2011

Ninety out of 175 rivers in the Durban area have very good or fair water quality, eThekwini’s water and sanitation department says.

The Umgeni River, plunging down the Howick Falls for 365 feet, revealed good water quality

The water classification at 90 river sites in the eThekwini municipal area were either “near natural” or “good” or “fair” following an aquatic bio-monitoring programme to determine the state of the health and integrity of rivers.

Those involved in the programme studied the state of living organisms in the water.

“We are looking at life in the water… which is an indication of water quality,” said project executive Selva Mudaly.

The water quality in Umdloti river, north of Durban, was “good to near natural”, while Umgeni and Umlazi rivers both had good water quality.

Out of the 175 sites tested, 85 rivers had either “fair”, “poor” or “very poor” classifications.

Mudaly said the worst affected rivers were Isipingo, Umkhumbane and Umhlangane rivers.

The water quality was bad, mainly because of the rivers being near industrial areas or informal settlements with a lack of proper sanitation, and waste water taps running into rivers.

Mudaly said the best way to fix the problem would be re-housing the areas and ensuring people had access to proper sanitation.

But he said eThekwini was also in the process of moving people away from the rivers because often pit latrines would be built on the riverbanks, causing sewage to leak into the water.

– Sapa

Water crisis has past eleventh hour

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 November 2010

The country’s water crisis is past the eleventh hour as red-tape and interdepartmental bureaucracy remain major stumbling blocks to addressing the problem, trade union United Association of SA (UASA) said on Wednesday.

“Since March this year, it has taken the trade union UASA three well-publicised high-level seminars, an authoritative impact study, numerous meetings and a Section 77 application at Nedlac (National Economic Development and Labour Council) to bring home the message that South Africa is facing a gigantic water crisis,” the union said in a statement.

The union said its water security crusade, labelled “H2O 4 Life”, has “awakened” government, organised business and others to the harsh reality that acid mine drainage and the dumping of sewage and industrial pollutants in “meagre” sources of fresh water were threatening the country. Continue reading

South African Blue Flag Beaches 2011

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 October 2010

South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to implement the Blue Flag programme and it was launched here in November 2001 as part of the South African Government’s CoastCare initiative. Since 2001, the Blue Flag programme has become a truly global initiative with over 42 countries participating and a further seven countries undertaking the feasibility stage.

Camps Bay beach

27 South African beaches (listed at end of article) have achieved world-class standards during the past season and have been adjudicated by both a South African and an International Blue Flag Jury to meet the standards of excellence Blue Flag beaches must achieve.

“The success of the Blue Flag programme in South Africa over the past 10 years can be attributed to the commitment of participating municipalities to provide beach-goers and holiday-makers with world class beaches offering safe, clean and well-managed facilities,” said Alison Kelly, WESSA’s Blue Flag Program Manager.

“The municipalities managing Blue Flag beaches are showing that high levels of excellence and delivery of services to benefit both local and international visitors are possible. Blue Flag as an organised and internationally managed accreditation programme provides a viable system for service excellence on our coastline and those municipalities receiving accreditation today should be acknowledged for what they have achieved” Kelly said. Continue reading

Massive pollution threat to economic heartland

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 July 2010

A double whammy from the pollution legacy of more than 100 years of gold mining on the Witwatersrand, and inadequately maintained sewage works could leave South Africa’s economic heartland facing a water crisis of epic proportions within two years if drastic interventions by the government and industry are not urgently put into place. The cost involved could be in the order of R500 billion, but if left unattended, the looming pollution crisis could hamstring growth and cause a plague of health problems.

The Witwatersrand basin contains porous, sponge-like dolomitic rock

A report with recommendations from the Chamber of Mines more than 60 years ago to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, aimed at securing the quality of South Africa’s water resources, went by unheeded.

The Jordaan Commission warned eight years later in 1960 about imminent problems concerning the increased levels of iron, sulphates and manganese.

The recommendations made at the time did not receive any serious attention from the government of the day.

Now environmentalists warn that without urgent action, mine water as corrosive as battery acid will gush from Joburg’s Wemmer Pan and seep into the city’s streets and gardens within two years. Among others, the integrity of buildings in the central business district could be threatened.

Read full article here: Leadership online
Read related article: Toxic minerals and acids at dangerous level

Minister responds to charges for Hartbeespoort pollution

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 June 2010


The Department of Water Affairs has noted with concern recent media reports of an environmental lobby group -the Environment and Conservation Association, which is said to be preparing to bring criminal charges against Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica for apparently not attending to the pollution contaminating the Hartbeespoort Dam.

A view across the dam at Hartbeespoort. Photo by 'crafty1tutu'.

The department views this as an unfortunate course of action in the light of the work that the department is doing to remedy the situation not only in the Hartbeespoort Dam but in tackling pollution generally in the entire country. “The issue of pollution in our water sources is a complex challenge that requires the collective effort of everyone in the sector” said Nobu Ngele, the Acting Director General in the department. She said historical challenges such as the state of water infrastructure, inadequate funding and the skills shortage compounded the problem but efforts to collaborate with local government in dealing with the problem are being undertaken vigorously.

Read the full response here
Read: Minister to face charges for failure to protect water resources (17 June 2010)