Dead turtles wash up on Australian beaches

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 Aug 2011

WWF has received numerous reports from aboriginal groups on the north-eastern coast of Australia of large numbers of sick, starving and dead turtles washing up on beaches. The reports come following the loss of sea grasses after Cyclone Yasi and floods hit the area back in February.

Five species of marine turtle are classified as endangered or critically endangered

The increase in turtle deaths for April may be more than five times higher this year compared to the same time last year.

“If these numbers are accurate, then this is a shocking development for the Great Barrier Reef​” said WWF’s Conservation on Country Manager Cliff Cobbo. “We urgently need clarification from the Queensland Government on how many turtles are being found dead along the Great Barrier Reef coast”.

Turtle hospitals in Townsville, Queensland are being overwhelmed with sick and starving animals and do not have the resources to handle the number of turtles expected to need emergency care over the next 18 months.

Some local aboriginal groups have been so concerned by what they are seeing they plan to suspend issuing hunting permits within their saltwater country.

CEO of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Phil Rist, said large numbers of dead turtles and dugongs had been found in recent weeks and that strandings are occurring on a weekly basis. Continue reading

Toxic water can be purified to drinkable water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 July 2011

By Kristin Palitza

South African scientists have developed an environmentally friendly method to clean highly toxic water and convert it into drinkable water. Once available commercially, the method could drastically reduce the negative impact industry has on water pollution worldwide.

Eutectic freeze crystallisation could be used in the mining sector

Called eutectic freeze crystallisation, the technique freezes acidic water – or brine – to produce potable or drinking water as well as useful salts, such as sodium and calcium sulphate.

Alison Lewis, professor for chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, who has led the research since 2007, claims 99.9 percent of the polluted water can be reused after applying the new technique. Unlike other water cleaning methods, it practically doesn’t produce any toxic waste.

“It’s an environmentally friendly and cost-effective technology that can be used pretty much in all industrial sectors that pollute water and thus produce brine,” explains Lewis. This includes sectors like mining, the oil and gas industry, chemical industry, paper processing or sewerage.

The simultaneous separation and purification method is based on bringing the contaminated water temperature down to reach its eutectic point – the lowest possible temperature of solidification. At this point, toxins crystallise to form salts and sink to the ground, while the clean water turns into ice, floating on the surface.

“By its nature, ice is the purest form of water because it repels any impurities. It’s actually very simple,” explains Lewis. “The method is ecologically significant because it can turn toxic waste into a useful product.” Continue reading

Activity aims to increase student awareness in protecting water bodies

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 13 May 2011

Seven Joburg primary schools are competing in the Schools Water Audit and Monitoring Competition, which looks at the quality of water in local rivers.

Bullfrog numbers are dwindling at a frightening rate. Photo: Louis du Preez

The schools are Tsosane from Ivory Park; Wilhelmina Hoskins from Riverlea; Julius Sebolai from Bram Fischerville; Khomanani from Diepkloof; Ikage from Alexandra; Kensington from Kensington; and Refalletsi from Orange Farm. From each school, 60 children will take part in the competition.

It is supported by the City’s environmental management department in partnership with City Parks, Joburg Zoo and Rand Water. Speaking at the launch of the competition at the zoo on 11 May, the member of the mayoral committee for environment, Matshidiso Mfikoe, said its purpose was to promote environmental education and awareness.

“The activity aims to increase student awareness and involvement in protecting water bodies by engaging them to monitor the water condition in their community,” said Mfikoe.

For six months, using simple test kits, learners and teachers will take water samples from their nearest water bodies to test temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen. Environmental specialists will visit the schools to explain how to carry out water quality data collection. Continue reading

Shortage of water is a business growth risk

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 April 2011

According to a new study by WWF and German development bank DEG, the shortage of freshwater is not only becoming more and more of an ecological risk, but it also is rapidly becoming a major business growth risk – one that investors need to take into account.

Access to sufficient water of adequate quality is of considerable economic significance.

Assessing Water Risk: A Practical Approach for Financial Institutions, states that climate change, population growth and increasing living standards are contributing to the rising pressure on existing and already scarce water resources, particularly in developing countries. In Southeast Asia and Africa, for example, water shortages constitute a threat to entire ecosystems and to the living standards of the population.

“The availability of water also is becoming a development bottleneck for companies. With the water risk filter we have now developed a new tool to identify such risks to companies and to offer support in water management,” said Dr Peter Thimme, head of DEG’s department for Sustainable Development/Environment.

Access to a sufficient quantity of water of adequate quality, he added, is therefore of considerable economic significance.

“Our intention is to provide the conscientious investor with the knowledge to work with clients toward more sustainable water management, with the aim of mitigating both business and environmental risks,” according to the study. Continue reading

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