Tshwane taps into hydropower

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 Dec 2011

The City of Tshwane has made history by being the first municipality in South Africa to use hydropower. This huge project was launched on 29 November 2011. This has realised the objectives of the study that was done by the University of Pretoria through funding from the Water Research Commission, which explored the use of water to generate power that could assist in supplementing the existing supply within a municipality. With this new source of energy, the country could start looking into providing such a service to other areas while reducing the problematic carbon emissions from coal that poses a threat to the environment.

Hydropower is still an untapped resource of energy within the African continent

The ‘Pressure Hydropower System’ has been installed and integrated at the new site, Pierre van Ryneveld reservoir located in the south-eastern part of the City of Tshwane. When operational, the system will generate about 16 Kilowatts of electricity per hour.

The acting Executive Mayor, Councillor Terence Mashego congratulated the team of experts and applauded the excellent work done by the University of Pretoria and its students and the Water Research Commission for funding such an initiative.

“The fact that somebody was employed to take part in the project by working on it or supplying stock for it, the project assisted in putting food on the table for those families’. I also appreciate that the project involved students who should be promoted based on their contribution towards this big initiative’’ says councillor Mashego. Continue reading

Water crisis could cripple economic growth

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 May 2010

South Africa faces a water crisis that could cripple economic growth and cause a plague of health problems – but critics say the government has yet to act with urgency.

Toxic algae bloom

The most immediate concern is the acid mine drainage (AMD) polluting a vast swathe from the Witwaters-rand to Mpumalanga. Other threats include pesticide run-off, broken infrastructure and failed sewage plants.

As the population grows and economic recovery puts more pressure on limited inland water resources, experts predict a shift of industrial activity to coastal areas where desalination plants will have to meet a growing share of demand.

Environmentalists warn that if the government and industry fail to act, within two years mine water as corrosive as battery acid will gush from Johannesburg’s Wemmer Pan and seep into the city’s streets and gardens.

“It is acutely toxic,” said Mariette Liefferink, who leads a group of non-governmental organisations lobbying for action. “It affects the soil and neural development of the foetus, which leads to mental retardation; it will cause cancer, cognitive problems, skin lesions,” she said. “These are all the foreseeable risks if we do not manage our AMD.”

Acid mine drainage, which occurs when mines close and stop pumping water out of shafts, has contaminated streams and dams on the West and East Rand that feed into the Limpopo and Vaal rivers. Treatment by utilities such as Rand Water renders the water safe, but those who drink straight from rivers are at risk. Continue reading

Warning against DDT spraying

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 01 May 2010

South Africa should start looking for alternative solutions to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Using DDT to curb the spread of malaria has been proven by researchers to pose a huge risk to human beings.  According to the latest research conducted by the CSIR and the University of Pretoria, and funded by the Water Research Commission, consuming chicken, fish and vegetables produced in DDT-sprayed areas is putting people at risk of developing illnesses such as cancer.

Mosquito

A study was conducted in Vhembe District Municipality with sites at Lotanyanda, Hasana, Tshikonelo, Xikundu Weir and Mhinga.  These villages are situated in Limpopo province and make use of water from the tributaries of the Luvuvhu River system, and Albasini and Nandoni Dams.

The study followed a recommendation for further research made by a group of international researchers, who reviewed 494 studies that investigated human health consequences of DDT use in 2008.

Spraying with DDT to control malaria has been an ongoing annual practice in Limpopo Province since 1996. “Ingestion of chicken or fish and vegetables grown in DDT-sprayed areas poses a high risk of cancer and toxic effects” says Annatjie Moolman, WRC Research Manager responsible for the study. “Ingestion of water does not contribute largely to the calculated risk of developing cancer.’’

The study also highlights that DDT is an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) adversely affecting the development of hormones and causing alterations in development. Exposure of male embryos to EDCs during the early stages of fetal development has been linked by previous studies to increased incidences of male reproductive health disorders, including hypospadias, undescended testes, intersex, subfertility and testicular cancer.

According to the Stockholm Convention, signed by 100 countries in 2001, DDT should be used with caution only when needed and when there are no other affordable alternatives available.The Stockholm Convention compels countries to provide an implementation and management plan to limit and reduce reliance on DDT spraying.

– Annatjie Moolman