Water plan rethought

2019-04-10 06:01

Means to preserve water and to improve quality for consumption, as well as the role of agriculture in this, took centre stage at the 2019 German-Southern African Summer School held at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) campus in Bloemfontein.

The UFS co-hosted this with the Dresden University in Germany.

A total of 66 delegates from Germany and Southern Africa made inputs in discussions on the best means to preserve water.

Focus was also on aquatic bio­monitoring.

Questions such as “How to improve water quality?” and “What about the impact of the catchment area, land use and agriculture on water quality?” were discussed.

According to Marinda Avenant, lecturer at the Centre for Environmental Management at the UFS, a two-pronged approach is often used: first, ecosystem-based biomonitoring, and second, specialised water quality and toxicity-assessment methods applied at specific sites in order to identify problems.

Presenters from academia, government authorities and the private sector shared theoretical concepts and practical experiences of establishing aquatic biomonitoring networks in Germany, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Zambia.

The summer school focused on an integrated approach, which involved catchment processes, hydrology, geo­morphology and land use, as well as chemical and biological monitoring.

Delegates also undertook a field trip to the Mokala National Park near Kimberley in the Northern Cape for a practical demonstration of water-quality monitoring as part of the programme.

The fact-finding event is borne from the fact that many countries struggle with the negative consequences of poor surface-water quality, found to threaten their food security and livelihood.

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