50 | 50 Episode 35 – 11 Feb 2013

A focus on water

Making a Mess

Throughout South Africa, one of the leading causes of illness is poor water quality. And one of the main causes of poor water quality, is a problem with local sewerage works. Some manage to remediate polluted river systems to near-natural but not every aspect of a sewage spillage is isolated and treatable. The Rooivaal water treatment works, for example, has had sewage leaking into the Apies River for a while. Surrounding farmers and communities are severely affected and unable to use the water from the river to irrigate their crops. Production is down and flies breeding in the sludge are allegedly responsible for the spread of horse disease. We speak to the Director of Tshwane’s Water and Sanitation about what needs to be done to correct the leakage that has affected so many people and has potential to still affect many more.


Hydropower vs. Nature-based sport


What happens when two sustainable activities clash? How do we find middle ground? Hydropower is a green, sustainable form of energy and with SA’s energy crises and bent for “dirty” energy, electricity sources like hydropower are certainly essential. But who would have thought that the installation of such plants would be met with resistance? A project in the Free State has seen the second phase of a three-phase project completed with pleasing results but now that the third hydro-station is about to be installed near scenic Clarens, residents have much to say. Why? Because of nature-based tourism and sport. Professional rowers from all over the world, as well as our own Olympic-level competitors, make use of the rapids near Clarens to train. The proposed upstream weirs threaten to drain the rapids and white water tourism in the areas. What about the ecology of the river deprived of flow? Its an interesting clash of green needs, where do we strike a balance?


Medupi Follow-up

Last year we brought you the story of Eskom’s Medupi Power Station and the sand mining that was adding to the impact on the surrounding area.  The effect of sand mining is not only a concern for geologists that care about the integrity of crucial aquifers in the ecosystem, but it is also a concern for the country’s existing water crisis and its aggravating effect on our food security. Thanks to the progressive legislation that protects water and our environment, some farmers that were left in drought have been heard and helped…  Find out what has been happening since 50|50 last visited.



This week we have a look at some of the creatures that thrive in water. From hungry birds to elephants and crocodiles, there is never a dull moment in VeldFokus.

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