There’s no future in fracking

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 July 2011

Oil companies were today (Tuesday) asked to drop their plans to use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract shale gas from the Karoo and other areas in South Africa.

Millions of litres of water are needed for fracking - per drilling site.

Speaking at the Shale Gas Conference in Johannesburg, chairman of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) Jonathan Deal said there was not enough evidence at hand that the potential benefits of fracturing could outweigh the attached risks.

“At this juncture of our history, with climate warming on the increase and increased threats to water supplies it would make corporate and social sense to invest research and development funds in seeking renewable energy alternatives, rather than pursuing finite fossil fuels,” said Deal.

Deal was attending the 2011 Africa Gas and LNG Summit at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

“TKAG respects due process and the current Cabinet moratorium on fracking. But this should not prevent oil and gas companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, from changing their minds about fracking,” said Deal.

Deal also said there was not enough transparency about the departmental task team appointed to investigate the merits of fracking. “In the interest of playing open cards, we call on Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to disband this group. Repeated calls on her for clarity about the task team, and its terms of reference, have fallen on deaf ears.”

Deal said that fracking technology needs a rigorous evaluation that takes into account a number of technical, environmental, social, cultural and economic considerations.

He said that if Shell and other oil and gas companies were granted licences to explore or to produce without a comprehensive cost versus benefit evaluation of fracking’s affect, the Karoo could face a social and environmental disaster that would devastate the area and its people.

Issued by HWB Communications (Pty) Ltd on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group

Peace in Central Asia may depend on shared water resources

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

Boosting cooperation between countries sharing the waters of the Amu Darya, Central Asia’s longest river, could be key to future peace and security in the region a new report launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says.

The Aral Sea, which relies in part from water from the Amu Darya, remains severely degraded. Estimates indicate that "the volume and surface area of the sea have decreased tenfold"

Big hydropower projects planned upstream, demand for irrigated agriculture downstream and growing concern that climate change is shifting weather patterns are emerging as major natural resource challenges for the four main nations involved – Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The new report, prepared by UNEP on behalf of partners in the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC), points out that water resources in the region are already impacted by decades of often unsustainable development dating back to the era of the Soviet Union.

Large-scale engineering projects dammed and diverted substantial flows from the Amu Darya river basin into activities such as cotton, wheat and fodder farming in arid and desert regions. Such projects have also contributed to increased land degradation and damage to soils.

The Aral Sea, which relies in part from water from the Amu Darya, remains severely degraded with the report’s estimates indicating that “the volume and surface area of the sea have now decreased tenfold”.

Water levels in the southern part have dropped by 26 meters and the shoreline there has now receded by several hundred kilometers, says the report Environment and Security in the Amu Darya Basin.

Across the Amu Darya basin there is growing concern over declining water quality with and implications for human health including increased incidence of kidney, thyroid and liver diseases. This is being linked with chemicals run off from cultivated land and the washing of soils in the winter to reduce salt levels. Continue reading

Major retailers express concern over SA’s water crisis

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

Shoprite Checkers, Woolworths and Pick n Pay, have expressed concern over speculation that a water crisis is looming in South Africa. The three major retailers say they have put in place rigorous measures to ensure their products are safe for consumption and are free of any potential contamination from polluted water supplies.

All suppliers to Freshmark are required to test their water regularly

A Shoprite spokesman said yesterday that suppliers to the group’s fresh produce procurement division, Freshmark, had to comply with a standard of certification regarding farming practices, which included regulations on irrigation water.

The spokesman said the requirements stipulated that untreated sewerage water should not be used and that all suppliers were required to test their water regularly and have the results available for an auditor’s inspection.

“The requirements around the safety of water supplies are critical requirements to be met by Freshmark’s suppliers in order to receive or retain certification. Suppliers must comply with local regulations and standards … on drinking water,” he said.

If suppliers failed to comply, they would lose their certification and would be barred from supplying Freshmark.

The spokesman said the audit involved the testing of produce on a continuous basis in Freshmark’s distribution centres for microbial and chemical residue activity before fruit and vegetables were distributed to Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets. Continue reading

Five principles for responsible business involvement in water policy

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 November 2010

In a country where for decades the majority was marginalised and denied access to adequate water supplies, recent political and economic advancements have brought the need for transparency and equitable water allocation to the fore.

Businesses need to look beyond their own operations and supply chains to manage water risk

Yet South Africa’s water supply infrastructure is too ill-equipped and poorly maintained to meet growing demand, leading to a massive shortfall in service delivery. Climate change in a country that has the 30th lowest water availability per person is only exacerbating the crisis. As a result, water insecurity poses a major risk to businesses, communities and the environment. Due to the increased competition for water in many sectors, environmental needs are often given the lowest priority.

But there are opportunities to fix these problems through effective private-public or private-civil society partnerships and some businesses have responded in an attempt to address their risks.

For example, in May the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce established a water commission specifically to work with the government to address water infrastructure challenges. Companies such as Sanlam, SAB and De Beers have sought the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) technical expertise and partnership to help them understand and manage their water-related risks.

In an article in [Business Report] on October 5, the point was made that businesses needed to look beyond their own operations and supply chains to manage water risk.

This means engaging the wider society – a broad spectrum of stakeholders, communities and local authorities.

But how can businesses influence public water policy in a responsible way? At what scale should businesses engage in public water policy? What are the key principles that should define this engagement? Continue reading

Deadly health risk to water supplies

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 November 2010

The breakdown of ageing sewage treatment works and the discharge of bacteria into rivers and streams pose a deadly health risk to water supplies, the African Christian Democratic Party warns.

Collecting water form a cholera infected river

“Questions have rightly been asked as to whether municipal water is still acceptable for human consumption, particularly in rural areas,” ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.

Outdated infrastructure and problems in retaining skilled staff had contributed to unacceptably high levels of pollution in many rivers and dams around the country.

He noted that a breakdown in the state of water supplies in South Africa’s northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, had caused an outbreak of cholera.

“If we do not attend to this creeping water crisis, we will face very serious public health issues arising from water-borne diseases,” Swart said.

With about 100,000 reported cases and more than 4000 deaths, Zimbabwe’s recent cholera epidemic – which started in 2008 – proved one of Africa’s most deadly in almost two decades.

Swart called on government to embark on public water awareness campaigns, similar to those addressing power shortages.

“The maintenance and refurbishment of bulk water infrastructure and supplies, as well as the widespread pollution of our rivers and dams, must be attended to urgently,” he said.

The department of water affairs was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, it was reported that South Africa’s largest water utility, Rand Water, blamed overloaded sewage works, together with acid mine drainage and poor water catchment management, for the rapidly deteriorating quality of the country’s raw water supplies.

According to the department of water affairs’ so-called Green Drop report, issued earlier this year, only seven percent of the country’s sewage treatment plants operate at an acceptable standard.

Source: Times Live