A roundup of topical issues for biospheres, local and international.
The Earth is already one degree Celsius hotter than at the start of the 20th century, halfway to the critical two-degree threshold. Climate change plans adopted so far may not be enough to avoid a three-degree temperature rise. This is the warning of the UN weather agency contained in the 2015 annual report on the status of the climate.
With extreme weather events flooding damages water and sewage treatment facilities, and water-borne diseases, such as cholera and diarrhoea, spread more quickly.
In September 2015 the international community jointly approved the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which call for “safe water for everyone.” This is a step up from the Millennium Development Goals which required greater access to water is provided.
In 2015, all but 663 million people had access to drinking water from improved sources. But newly available testing technology show that an estimated 1.8 billion people may be drinking water contaminated by e-coli, meaning there is faecal material in their water, even from some improved sources.
Locally, a new movement in by civil society is putting the spotlight on freshwater contamination by water treatment works.
Anthony Duigan, resident in the buffer area of the Magaliesberg Biosphere explains, “Action for Responsible Management of Our River (ARMOUR) is a campaign to force authorities to take seriously their responsibilities for managing water and sanitation as it affects our waterways and ground water”.
The Northern Works water treatment plant is situated in the transition zone and has discharges untreated sewage into the Jukskei River. The Jukskei River flows into the Crocodile River, which feeds the Hartbeespoort Dam, and the irrigation systems downstream.
ARMOUR underscores that the crisis of sewage pouring into our waterway is far greater than the crisis we face as a result of the drought.
It warns that the Acid Mine Drainage footprint is growing, contaminating water far beyond the mines of origin.
Visit the ARMOUR website for ideas what you can do.