Conservation & Environmental Matters

From: soham akhil pandya <>
Reply-To: soham akhil pandya <>
Date: 10 Dec 2005 15:24:45 -0000
To: Eric Munzhedzi <>
Cc: Stuart Mangold <>, Tharina Boshoff <>, <>, Phillip Owen <

Subject: Re: Re: Dams down to the last drop

Dear Friends,
There are some sayings. "Small is beautiful' and "Think globally and act locally". In days to come and years to follow water is going to be a critical problems for each one of us. Small devices to stop the running off of water is much more effective than big dams. If each one of us think in the same manner and act accordingly at our own place of living than we can always have enoughy water for our routine life.

I do not know how big industries demanding tons of water will survive without big dams. But than that is their problems.

Thanks for writing a nice letter.

Soham Pandya

------ Forwarded Message
From: Eric Munzhedzi <>
Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 18:40:47 +0200
To: <>, Phillip Owen <>
Cc: Stuart Mangold <>, Tharina Boshoff <>
Subject: Re: Dams down to the last drop

Agree with Philip Owen, this problem is contuing and the only answer is education and awareness. We are really paying more attention on dams rather than looking on the rivers/catchment as a whole and try to save the little water which is there! The millions of rands we are spending to construct such dams will be a good benefit if we spend it on rivers and catch protection or any thing related to this. At Limpopo there are busy building a big dam which is costing millions of rands, whereas there is no enough water in the stream.

In Northwest Province, the Molopo eyes, which sustains the flow of Molopo river is overloaded by dams (some of them illegal), diamond mining ( of which some times they break the aquifers and water gushes out of the ground and end up wasted), developments (building houses very close to the wetland-pollution) and the most horrible thing is that they are taking a huge amount of water right from the eye by pipe. All these have led the river to dry up.
We have Working for Wetlands which is doing a marvellous work by rehabilitating all degraded wetlands in the country.
Nevertheless, change in appraoch with regards to Dams building is crucial in this country!!
Eric Tshifhiwa Munzhedzi
Regional Co-ordinator
Northwest & Freestate
Working for Wetlands
South African National Biodiversity Institute
PostNet Suite 2055
Private Bag x 82245
Tel: 014 537 2137
Fax: 086 681 6119
Cell: 072 062 2090
URL: <>

>>> "Phillip Owen" <> 2005/12/09 02:35 PM >>>

More dams are not the answer to our water problems.

80% of rivers world wide have been damned, leading to river degradation
and impacts not yet well understood. Dams obstruct the natural movement
of sediments and nutrients in rivers, causing South African dams to silt
up a average of 2% each year. This problem could also contribute the
global crash in game fishing stocks, as fish breed in estuaries which
are heavily affected by changes in the river silt load. Some South
African dams are silted up completely, and there is no viable technique
to mitigate this problem (except to decommission the dams). Ironically,
in times of drought dams are usually empty...

The way to ensure an adequate supply of water to people is by equipping
each and every household with knowledge and infrastructure to practise
rain-water harvesting. We can also save water by eliminating flush
toilets, opting for composting toilets instead.

In addition, the pressure on the water resource would be greatly reduced
if a significant proportion of the highly consumptive alien timber
plantations in the upper catchments of our river systems can be
permanently removed or replaced with longer term, higher value,
indigenous and 'water-wise' timber species. White River (referred to in
the article below) has a catchment area of around 10 000 hectares - 75%
covered by high impact timber plantations.

We should adapt our industry and develop appropriate technology to suit
the available resources, and not try to 'adapt' the river resource in
order to suit an unsustainable demand from industry.

Philip Owen

From the Lowvelder <>

Dams down to the last drop
by: Naranda Nell
11/29/2005 7:53:00 AM
NELSPRUIT - Residents of the Mpumalanga capital and its neighbouring
town, White River, will soon have access to water only during certain
hours of the day.

Mbombelas deputy director of technical services, Mr Frans Greyling,
warned yesterday that it was just a matter of time before water would be
cut off completely for most of the day. "People do not realise exactly
how critical the water shortage is in the area," said

Ms Bessie Pienaar, Mbombela spokesman. According to her the shortage in
the area had reached such alarming proportions that usage would soon be
limited to residential use only.

Farmers have already been forced to stop crop irrigation completely. Dam
levels continued to drop over the past few months with two of White
Rivers primary water sources, Klipkopje and Longmere dams standing at
0% and 10% respectively. Severe restrictions have been imposed on White
River and Nelspruit which determine that water may now only be used for
primary needs. This excludes gardens.

Recent rainfall in the area had no effect on the dam levels because of
the extreme aridity of the ground. Pienaar said if the dam levels kept
dropping, the municipality would have to close reservoirs.

According to her the municipality was allocated 1,25 million cubic
metres and 750 000 cubic metres per year, from Longmere and Witklip
respectively. The Longmere grant has now been exhausted and Witklip is
the only source left.

The municipality has linked a few boreholes to pipelines that provide
Nelspruit and White River residents with water.

According to Mr Leon Hallatt, chief engineer at Mbombela Municipality,
the national water affairs department is currently studying the borehole
levels to establish the amount of ground water in the region.

Meanwhile more severe restrictions have been imposed on towns in
Mbombela. Pienaar said the watering of gardens was now prohibited in
White River and surrounding areas, including Hillsview and Rocky Drift.

She also warned that restrictions in Nelspruit would be tightened if
Kwena Dam, that provided the city with water, dropped lower than the
existing 10%.

What haunts many people is probably that the present dam infrastructure
is insufficient to provide residents with water. According to Pienaar,
planning of a new dam should have started much earlier.

"In the Lowveld where we have high-intensity thunderstorms, dams should
be able to catch water that would normally flow away in rivers.

All consumers of water from the Crocodile River are of the opinion that
a dam should be built. This debate has been going on for 20 years. It is
well known that the Crocodile River functions under severe stress with
an estimated shortage of about 150 million cubic metres per year, the
second worst situation in South Africa. It is obvious that the time has
now arrived for the responsible authorities to take the plunge and build
a dam to prevent precious water from flowing away.

She said it was important to know that there were various closed-circuit
infrastructures. The one that serviced White River and Rocky Drift, was
one which was totally dependent on water from the Witklip and Longmere

Although White River has already been granted permission to build a
pipeline from the Crocodile River to town, this project can only be put
into place in over a years time. The first phase will cost R46 million
that will include pump stations and reservoirs.

"We urge all residents to restrict their water usage even more. Every
unnecessary drop used, improves the chances of having to cut off the
water completely if the drought continues." Enquiries: Silulumanzi
Nelspruit on 013-752-2369 or 086-174-5858, White River 013-751-1177 or

This is the sawac@geasphere mailing list. To Join or Leave, contact <>