Friday, 07 January 2011

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Sunday, 17 January 2010

How it is.


...we need to be aware of our personal calling. What is a personal calling? It is God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our own dream.


There are four obstacles. First: we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear, and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible, but it's still there.

If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path, We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn't work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: "Oh, well, I didn't really want it anyway." We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey. Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.

I ask myself: are defeats necessary?

Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.

So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people?

Because, once we have overcome the defeats - and we always do - we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.

Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives.

Oscar Wilde said: "Each man kills the thing he loves." And it's true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all of those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget all about the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had given up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal - when it was only a step away.

This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Maria & Dante, Liani & Katryn

South Africa's Water...

- Concerned with a cholera threat from its northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, South Africa could be overlooking a creeping water crisis of its own, as ageing infrastructure and rising demand spew potentially deadly bacteria into its water systems.

When apartheid crumbled in 1994, an estimated 14 million South Africans lacked access to a formal water supply, and about half the country - 21 million people - had no formal sanitation, according to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF).

Since then, access to water has increased dramatically, but backlogs persist: in 2008, about 5 million people were still in need of adequate supplies, while three times more - 15 million people - lacked basic sanitation.

The quality of municipal drinking water is monitored monthly, with nearly all municipalities reporting an acceptable standard of water. However, outdated infrastructure and problems in retaining skilled staff have contributed to what DWAF admits are unacceptably high levels of pollution in some rivers and dams.

South Africa's tap water is among the best in the world, according to DWAF spokesperson Linda Page. But with millions still lacking access to flush toilets and piped water, the threat of waterborne diseases cannot be ignored, she said.

In 2008, half of the municipal water supplies surveyed in Western Cape Province, on the country's south coast, had high levels of the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria, according to a study released by the provincial DWAF.

In impoverished districts like Ukhahlamba, in neighbouring Eastern Cape Province, the problem is even more extreme. In 2008, Ukhahlamba reported levels of E. coli and other bacteria that were so high in some parts of its water supply it had been forced to issue "boil alerts" and supply water to severely affected communities by tanker trucks, according to presentations made to parliament in June.

Though E. coli can sometimes be traced back to certain industries, it is often taken as an indication that water supplies were recently contaminated with human or animal waste. That problem is being exacerbated by the first heavy rains of the 2009 season, which can wash contaminants into water systems.

Municipalities across the country have blamed poor water quality on a lack of resources and capacity that has put far too much strain on ageing water treatment plants. In 2004 South Africa had just 15,000 civil engineers, with the bulk in the private sector and only 11 percent working for local government.

A river runs through it

With its source high in the Drakensberg Mountains, the Vaal River stretches more than 1,000km to become the main tributary to South Africa's longest waterway, the Orange River. It feeds large portions of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area, the country's economic heartland, as well as most of the northern Free State Province.

It has also, in some areas, registered high enough levels of faecal matter to warrant Rand Water, South Africa's largest bulk water utility, to warn that contact with the river may put people at risk of serious infection.

One of the major problems is that our system is very old - our pump station is giving us problems, almost everything is giving us problems
Every year thousands of tourists flock to the towns that dot the banks of the Vaal. In sleepy Parys, visitors make up a vital part of the local economy, but in December, when the extent of the pollution became known, the town lost about US$180,000 a week in cancellations. According to businessman Carl Cilliers, who runs a resort on the river's edge, a repeat performance could put him and his family out of business.

Local wildlife is also struggling to cope with the environmental impact. Recently, court-ordered contractors removed 20 tonnes of dead fish after a local NGO, Save the Vaal River Environment (SAVE), took the local Emfuleni municipality to court for leaking millions of litres of raw sewage into the river. SAVE said the pollution had contributed to stomach and intestinal disorders among nearby residents.

In its defence, Emfuleni municipality - well aware of its failing pumps and ageing infrastructure – argues that it lacks the finances and capacity to correct the situation.

"One of the major problems is that our system is very old - our pump station is giving us problems, almost everything is giving us problems," said Mojalefa Radebe, media relations officer at the municipality's Water Service Unit. In 2007, the municipality ran an operational deficit of about US$4 million, with an outstanding US$2 million debt to Rand Water.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

This could soon be in one of our newspapers....The water crisis reaches everyone of us.Not just the poor, black, white or elderly!!

HARGEISA, 4 August 2009 (IRIN) - The self-declared republic of Somaliland has been gripped by a drought that has left thousands of families and their livestock in desperate need of water, officials say.

"The first thing people ask you is for water, because both the people and their animals [are] seriously weak and cannot reach water wells in the remote areas," Said Ahmed Du’alle Bullale, MP for Saraar region, told IRIN on 2 August.

The parliamentarian, who recently visited Saraar, Sool and Sanag regions, said many water wells had dried up. Those that still had water served very large populations.

"About 100,000 [people] from Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag regions were displaced by the recent drought and no one is supporting [them]," he added.

The worst-affected areas included the main Saraar plains between Sanaag and Togdheer and Ba’ade, between Sool and Sanaag.

"Most people have moved to places where some Gu’ [long] rains were received, such as the mountains of Sanaag near Erigavo and the southeast district of Togdheer," the MP said.

The mayor of Ainabo town, Khalif Ismail Saleban, said about 35,000 pastoralist families had moved from other regions in search of pasture for their livestock to areas between Qori-lugud and Buhootle, where some long rains had fallen.

This had increased the number of displaced people in the town, which is the capital of Saraar region. "We have more than 400 families who lost their animals in the drought," he told IRIN.

A local chief in Ainabo, Ibrahim Isse Hassan, said the drought had also cut the market value of livestock. The highest price for sheep, for example, was down to US$38 from $42 a few weeks ago, yet the price of rice was still $36.

On 22 June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) warned that the drought in Somalia's central region had extended north into the key pastoral areas of the Sool plateau, Nugal valley, and Hawd livelihood zones.

The situation threatened more than 700,000 pastoralists and a significant number of urban households, whose income and food sources are strongly linked to livestock marketing and trade.

"Emergency assistance is required in order to prevent severe deterioration in food security," FEWS Net said. The situation had resulted from cumulative effects of four consecutive seasons of below-normal rainfall, it noted, adding that pasture and grazing conditions had deteriorated to an alarming degree.

Sunday, 09 August 2009

Martella du Preez of the CSIR took us with to Soshanguve

Learning and preparing to change our bicycles for a motorbike...

Louise at Speed Queen Racing helped us to organise our motorbike riding training. Learning from the best women rider in South Africa Wilmarie Janse van Rensburg and her team is an honor. Thanks for all the good advice and lessons guys.I know we are definitely going to be thankful for the info later on when we are on the road.

Preparations for the next expedition almost finished

Do It Now adventures organised some of our preparation courses. One being the Audi High Perfromance Driving at Gerotek South Africa. We had a lovely day!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Cycling to the Karoo, Canoeing the Vaalriver

The Global Water Crisis

3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.

43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.

84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 - 14.

98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.

884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.

The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

At any given time, half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.

Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.

An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.

World Water Coverage. View larger map.
About a third of people without access to an improved water source live on less than $1 a day. More than two thirds of people without an improved water source live on less than $2 a day.

Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.

Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days.

The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person.

Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.

Saturday, 02 May 2009

Safe Drinking Water is your birthright....take responsibility and look after the water resources in your direct environment

Carte Blanche on Water Polution - Sunday 8 February 2009

Date: 08-02-2009
Producer: Joy Summers
Presenter: Bongani Bingwa
Researcher: Quereshini Naidoo
Genre: Environment and Conservation

Dead babies in the Eastern Cape. Dead crocodiles in the Oliphants River. Dead fish in the Vaal. 7 000 Cholera cases, crumbling infrastructure and large scale sewage spills. Last year South Africans, shell-shocked by the electricity crisis, wondered what would be next.

Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): “The lights had barely been switched back on when a Sunday newspaper said the next crisis would be with water. The minister said that a water crisis was looming, but others weren’t so sure. And as the year drew to a close it led to the firing of a CSIR political scientist who said he’d simply been telling it like it was.”

Dr Anthony Turton went from hero to zero. Putting his professional reputation on the line, his presentation - which he never got to deliver - raises uncomfortable questions about water supply and the effects of acid mine drainage on human health.

Bongani: “As you see it, what is the problem with our water?”

Dr Anthony Turton (Water policy specialist): “The problem that we have with our water is simply that we have reached the limit of our readily available supply. If you take this cup of coffee as an example. If that cup of coffee represents our total natural water resource, we have now allocated 98% of that. We have probably over allocated that, but the best data we have is 98% allocated. Our role now is to start saying: are we going to stop growing our economy because we have no more water to sustain activities, or are we going to start cascading that water around?”

Anthony Turton may have been the one to hit the headlines, but he was not the first to raise the flag. The alarm emanating from specialists in the water sector concurred - water-stressed South Africa simply doesn’t have enough water for us to treat it the way we are. Rivers are dying and some dams are under siege from a scourge called blue-green algae.

Nowhere was that more obvious than here [on screen], just downstream of Gauteng. This scum covers the Magalies River - just above the point where it flows into the Hartebeespoort Dam. It’s called blue green algae and it’s caused by too many phosphates and nitrates in the water, which creates the perfect environment for it to flourish. This enrichment of the water is called ‘eutrophication’.

Bongani: “Blue green algae is a symptom of eutrophication and is considered one of South Africa’s most critical water challenges. The case of Hartebeespoort Dam is one of the worst in the world.
This water is toxic and is mostly caused by sewage effluent flowing into our rivers.”

Around 12 to 16 sewage works empty their effluent into the water that flows into the dam.

This is what can happen to rivers when there is just too much sewage effluent running into them or it is not treated according to the strictest standards. It’s a worldwide water challenge, but already 35% of all our water in our storage dams is eutrophic or hypertrophic.

Carin van Ginkel is a Department of Water Affairs specialist scientist.

Bongani: “Why is eutrophication considered one of our most important water challenges?”

Carin Van Ginkel (Dept of Water Affairs specialist scientist): “Because there are very little management actions that are really effective.”

Bongani: “This is easily the most revolting sight I have ever seen… it’s bubbling. The putrid smell - you don’t want to fall in here, you will get sick.”

Not all blue green blooms are toxic, but a significant number are. These poisons, according to one expert, make strychnine look like vitamin syrup. They attack the liver and have killed wild animals in the Kruger Park and domestic stock.

Carin: “There’s a lot of incidences. There’s a whole dairy herd that died in the Eastern Cape.”

Bongani: “This has been linked to colon cancer?”

Carin: “Ja, the whole of the intestines can be affected. You can get skin irritations, you can get flu’ like symptoms, the liver is impacted mostly.”

The water here is of such poor quality that when Rustenburg needed more water for drinking, it was decided to pipe good quality water from Rand Water miles away in Vereeniging, rather than dip into this pea-green soup just around the corner.

Carin: “We definitely don’t have it under control - I mean this is showing it.”

Keeping these toxins out of the drinking water is expensive and difficult. That’s the job of Leanne Coetzee. 6% of Pretoria uses the Rietvlei Dam for drinking water and the algae there gave her a huge headache. Killing it with chlorine was not an option because, as it dies, it releases its toxins into the water, so the best way to remove it is at the source.

Leanne Coetzee (Deputy Director: Scientific Services): “The algae causes very inconsistent water - and the water treatment plant, it causes incredible leaps and bounds in the consistency of water quality. Now it’s great - in an hour it’s terrible.”

Leanne is experimenting with these Solar Bee panels which create a current that stops the blue green algae from growing. Photographs from a year ago suggest it may be working, but some scientists are sceptical, as it still doesn’t remove the source of the problem- phosphates and nitrates. She is giving it two years to see what happens.

Leanne: “All scientists are cautious. I’m not going to say this works until I’ve had a lot more data that I can analyse and test.”

Bongani: “In October last year the South African Institute of Civil Engineering submitted a report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on water and it’s pretty damning- using phrases like, ‘grave concern,’ ’someone has lost sight of the ball,’ ‘the status of our infrastructure is a crisis of the highest order.’ To add to that, the former director general Professor Mike Muller has written an article saying it’s time to panic.

Prof Mike Muller (Public & Development Manager: WITS): “If you look at the electricity crisis Bongani, the reason we had a month of blackouts was because, five years before, some decisions were taken that were wrong and some decisions weren’t taken. And what I am saying is that in the water sector we have similar lead times. If you’re not always looking ahead for the next four or five years, the chances are that, by the time you need to do something, it’s too late and then you will be in crisis.
So I am saying panic at the right time, and the right time is probably now.”

So is it time to panic? The only person to answer that question was minister Lindiwe Hendricks.

Bongani: “You say there is no crisis? We’ve spoken to scientists, engineers who’ve used words like, ‘panic,’ ‘crisis’?”

Lindiwe Hendricks (Dept Water Affairs & Forestry): “Well it’s their words. Because I say, if you look at what’s in the media and you look at what is being said about water, they say there is a water crisis; the country is going to run out of water. I’m saying it is incorrect. There is no impending crisis, as far as the security of supply is concerned.”

But it wasn’t just the media. Concerns were raised by water scientists and engineers - including those in her own department.

Bongani: “Some DWAF reports suggest that Gauteng may run out of water by 2013?”

Lindiwe: “Yes, that’s because we know we don’t have enough. We know that because we are planning. In November cabinet took a decision; approved a huge infrastructure project which is going to augment the system… Which is why I am saying we are not going to run out of water. We have planned, we have projected. So we are embarking on phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which will ensure that there is sufficient water in Gauteng.”

Bongani: “Since we began filming this story there have been countless reports of problems with our water. In Vryheid, a small town in KwaZulu-Natal, their water has been described as brown, and is full of worms. In Witbank the same thing - brown water. In Umtata, sewerage was flowing down the main street. In Sedgefield, near Knysna, they have run out of water. The fact is that the management of our most important resource has been devolved down to the municipalities and in many cases they are simply not up to the job.”

The Matjhabeng municipality runs Welkom and Odendalsrus. On the outskirts of Welkom, the Sand River borders Johan Terblanche’s farm on the outskirts of Welkom. As chairperson of the NGO Eco Care, he was constantly receiving complaints from farmers about sewage being dumped in the river.

Johan Terblanche (Farmer, Chairman Northern Free State Ecocare): “For me, if my cattle drink this water they will become infected with measles. And for the other farmers downstream, if they use this water to irrigate their cabbages or lettuce, the Ascaris worms lay their eggs on the lettuce or cabbage and the farmer takes it back to the market and then the whole cycle begins again - which is unnecessary.”

It got so bad that Johan has used the country’s water legislation to lay two criminal charges against the previous municipal managers for polluting the surface water. One of the cases is in Odendalsrus and doesn’t affect him at all, but he believes it’s his duty as a concerned citizen.

Johan: “Because I am the chairperson, people phone me and say this is happening, so I said, ‘You must just go and lay a charge’. But they are too scared to lay a charge. If no one else will do it, then I must do it.”

Bongani: “The Odendalsrus sewage works haven’t been working for at least the last three years. To top it all off, this plant is based at a farm which was once called Paradise and, as you can see, it’s anything but.”

The story of this disaster appears to be far more than mere incompetence. All this plant needed at the time was an upgrade. Instead, the contractor came in and ripped the whole thing up. When it became evident after a year that he couldn’t complete the job properly he was asked to leave. It’s still unclear how much he was paid, but it’s run into the millions, and is now part of the court case that is being investigated.

Bongani: “If you win your cases, what happens?”

Johan: “It will be the best present in my life and we can all have clean water.”

According to a written response from the Matjhabeng Municipality it will now cost R18-million rand to fix the sewage plant. In the meantime, sewage is simply re-diverted into the wetlands and pans that stretch for about 11km and end up in Eduard Steyn’s farm across the road where he kept finding toilet paper in the cattle’s drinking water.

Eduard Steyn (Farmer): “Bongani, let me show you where the pollution… where the sewerage has polluted the ground, how pitch black the ground is and if you smell it, it smells like raw sewerage.”

Bongani: “Ugh, I know what you are thinking- they must pay these presenters a lot to do that.”

Sadly the dysfunction we saw in Odendalsrus is not isolated, according to the Institute of Civil Engineers “The collapse of water supply and sanitation infrastructure is well into crisis mode in rural areas”, says the Institution of civil engineers’ submission. Mike Muller says government is well aware of the situation.

Mike Muller (Visiting Professor: Public & Development Management, WITS): “My understanding is that they know very well that a lot of waste water works are not working to specifications, and I think they say it’s closer to 50%. But there’s a widespread understanding that many municipalities are failing. What we are missing is a solution to that problem.”

The solution to Welkom’s sewage works appears to be missing too. The town’s treatment plant is completely dysfunctional and half under water. It started with just one broken pump that wasn’t fixed in time. The pump was used to ensure that treated effluent was pumped out of this pan [on screen] which is above the facility. When the rains came two years ago the water flooded these works directly below. They have never worked since, despite the fact that the minister was here eight months ago and issued a directive to the municipality to sort it out quickly.

Bongani: “Behind me is Welkom’s main sewage works, which is out of commission and so the sewerage is pumping up over here… And what the city council has done is dug this trench, which diverts this into the Witpan, and that goes to the San River and eventually it lands up in the Vaal River. If it is human waste, it’s here. There’s faeces here, used condoms, sanitary pads - if it’s disgusting, you will find it here.”

It’s this raw sewage that ends up in the Sand River floating past Johan Terblanche’s farm. A few kilometres downstream the water is taken out for irrigation of food and drinking water for other Free State towns.

Bogani: “Fact is, you issued a directive, it has now been eight months, nothing has happened

Lindiwe: “We issued a directive and in 30 days they gave us a plan as to how they are going to correct. The issue of capacity again was a big problem, and the issue of finance was a big problem.”

Bongani: “But would you not say, minister, if nothing has happened, it makes the department and you look ineffective.”

Lindiwe: “Definitely, we have to strengthen our monitoring and evaluation system. And you know that we have established a unit, the Blue Scorpions and they are on the ground. And they bring back the information and we react to it.”

Mike: “The Constitution says this is the job of local government. The constitution also says that local government is an autonomous sphere of government, so DWAF can’t just go in and tell them what to do. In electricity, for example, cabinet long ago took the decision that municipalities weren’t competent to run electricity. So why are we saying that electricity is too complicated - take it away from them, but the more complicated business of water supply and sanitation is left with these weak and incompetent municipalities?”

Bongani: “People ask: is our drinking water safe? Well that depends who is supplying it. If it’s coming from Rand Water out of a world class facility like this, it’s about as good as it can get. But it’s in the rural areas where facilities like this just don’t exist… there, well, you take your chances.”

In Witbank few people trust the water coming out of the taps. They trust the municipality even less.

The day we arrived there was sewage flowing into the streets and unhappy municipal workers were sabotaging services because they weren’t getting paid overtime.

Koos Gass is losing business as the brown water stains his clients’ towels.

Bongani: “All from the water?”

Koos Gass (Business owner): “All from the water.”

We paid an impromptu visit to the water works.

Bongani: “Looks like there is no one here… ”

The place was deserted. We have since received information from a retired engineer who said he offered to assist the municipality, but they didn’t want his help and so he gave up in frustration. He told us that the brown water was a result of the clarifiers and the filters that were not working properly. Currently there is no qualified engineer and very little if any maintenance done. You can’t really trust a single water sample, but the one we had analysed indicated good compliance for the health parameters but bad compliance for the operational parameters. So it may not look good, but it’s safe to drink. But that is just one sample.”

Bongani: “Is our water safe? ”

Lindiwe: “I can safely say that the process that we’ve put in place to look at the quality of water at municipal level, the samples that we take every month across the country have indicated to us that 94% of our municipality water is clean and safe to drink. One thing we want to showcase during 2010 is the quality of drinking water in South Africa. So the few municipalities that are left behind - that 5% - we are going to eliminate it.”

A recent Water Research Commission study suggests a different figure to the minister. They say about 50% of small treatment plants are not producing the desired quantity or quality of water and 78% of operators don’t have the knowledge to do their jobs.

By contrast, Rand Water supplies some of the best water in the world to 12 million people. From Vereeniging 2800 million litres are pumped daily into reservoirs on the escarpment. They do about a million tests per year, testing for an array of pathogens, pesticides and toxic algae. They are also testing for chemicals that are not visible and that many people have never heard of. They’re called endocrine disruptors and they have found their way into South African water.

Bettina Genthe (Health Risk Assessor: Rietvlie Dam Project): “The Eland story is really how the whole study began at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.”

Bettina Genthe is a scientist working at the CSIR. She was the human health risk assessor on a study where a research scientist from the University of Pretoria discovered abnormal testicles on an Eland that had been culled.

Bettina: “And she noticed that the testicles of the eland had been totally calcified. And they actually described it like being, ‘a bag of bones that could shake around’ and it was something that they then started saying: ‘What caused this - what pollution is here that’s had such an effect on the eland?’”

Present in the Rietvlei reserve were pesticides, hormones and heavy metals - all endocrine disruptors. The WRC study went on to discover that almost half the mice had low sperm counts, 12% had no sperm at all, the penile sheath length in the snails was shorter and there were female sex cells inside the testes of the barbel.

Bongani: “Now, is this limited to Rietvlei or is it widespread?”

Bettina: “It’s not just limited to Rietvlie, but the study was. What we found was that there was almost no single area where these chemicals didn’t take place.”

The study revealed cancer risks if the water was used for irrigation, but the drinking water risk was low - that was due largely to the sophisticated treatment that the water underwent through the filters at the Rietvlei water purification plant.

Bettina: “I know that at Rietvlei they have activated carbon, and that is one of the most effective ways of removing the endocrine disruptors.”

Irrigation is under the spotlight at Stellenbosch University. Here a five year study is underway to establish exactly which pathogens end up on the fruit and vegetables that you eat. Dr Gunnar Sigge is at the helm.

Bongani: “Should we be worried about our water?”

Dr Gunnar Sigge (Project Manager - WRC Project): “The fact that we are doing the research is because we are worried about the state of our rivers. We’re worried, that’s why we’re doing this research to try and get to the bottom of where it’s coming from, what it is and what the risks are.”

Assisting with the study is Dr Jo Barnes - an unpopular messenger who has spent hours in her waders sampling these rivers. This soft spoken epidemiologist from Stellenbosch is not afraid to deliver hard truths.

Dr Jo Barnes (Faculty of Health Sciences, US): “I don’t always think that when people pronounce drinking water safe that they look at the whole spectrum of things that may be there. So I’m also starting to be concerned that the way we pronounce water clean is not keeping up with what’s really there… the more hardy things…”

Dr Barnes has written many papers on the health risks associated with our filthy rivers.

Dr Barnes: “I have found a full range of pathogens in water like that, many bacteria, skin diseases, respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, ear infections… organisms for all of those and of course the whole family of diarrhoeas. So this is not at all ideal water to irrigate on edible produce.”

And her outspoken comments haven’t won her many friends in the fresh produce industry.

Dr Barnes: “I have been put under severe pressure not to mention too much of the problems regarding fresh produce.”

Bongani: “You’ve been put under pressure not to speak up?”

Dr Barnes: “Yes.”

Bongani: “In what ways?”

Dr Barnes: “In many ways; some subtle some very direct. But anyway I am still here - nevertheless I am still here saying the same things and that is that denial… As the clock ticks, the problem gets bigger.”

And the clock is ticking… if government wants to showcase our water in 2010, we will need to clean up our act or we may just find ourselves warning our visitors to stay out of the rivers and avoid the tap water in our small towns.

Safe Drinking Water for ALL

Drinking water is the birthright of humankind. However, safe drinking water is denied to the majority of the world's population. This is certainly true in most parts of Africa and Asia.
Even in relatively advanced countries such as India, safe drinking water is not readily available, especially in the rural areas. Here, the concern is not about any water (for other use) but about potable water, which can be consumed safely by human beings. Safe drinking water is a paramount requirement because 75 per cent of diseases in developing countries arise from polluted drinking water. It is high time that we bring about public awareness about safe drinking water. The knowledge of how to make water safe for consumption is not readily available to people in most developing countries.
There are several good and simple scientific methods to purify polluted water to make it safe from drinking. This document describes some of the best ways available for purifying water by inexpensive methods, involving membranes, surface active materials and so on. Based on the local needs situations, appropriate methods can be employed to obtain safe drinking water in the different parts of the developing world. To this end, we hope this document will be useful.
Besides this document, we propose to prepare a simplified version in the form of a poster or a pamphlet. These publications will be advertised through scientific academies and other organizations in various developing countries. Each developing country could produce suitable in local and national languages, and employ various other ways of reaching the common people for using these simple techniques.
If we arouse the interest of all concerned, we may indeed make progress in solving one of the worst problems afflicting mankind.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Safe Drinking Water is YOUR birth right

South Africa's Water, is it safe to drink from the tap?

SA's tap water 'safe to drink'

3 March 2009

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has reassured South Africans that the country's tap water is safe to drink.

While acknowledging that the water in certain areas might at times not meet the required technical standards in terms of the electronic Water Quality Management & Drinking Water Quality Regulation, the department says this does not mean the water in these towns is not safe for human consumption.

While drinking water quality management is the responsibility of South Africa's municipalities, the department has an oversight and regulatory role on the quality of tap water, and has implemented a countrywide system to assist with the overall management of drinking water quality.

According to the department, an average 3 000 samples are taken nationwide from water supply systems, and the latest results indicate that on average 94% of the analyses complied with the health aspects of the national standard for drinking water quality.

"Our monthly reporting indicates that 98% of all samples taken comply with the health aspects as listed in of SANS 241: 2006," the department said in a statement last week.

Incentive-based regulation
The department has already commenced with its incentive-based regulation programme, the Blue Drop Certification Programme, with the objective of awarding excellent drinking water quality management in different towns.

The general public will also be kept well informed on the regulator's confidence levels in drinking water quality management levels per town or city. The first assessments of all nine provinces will be presented in an inaugural public report to be published in May.

'Highest quality' drinking water
The department reiterated its commitment to ensuring that South Africans are served with the highest quality drinking water, saying the country's standards compare well with World Health Organisation limits, which have been adopted as standards for the European Union and other developed countries, including Canada and Australia.

"In spite of the many challenges we have to face, it is encouraging to note that we do have water service systems which record similar compliance levels as our counterparts in developed countries," the department said.

SAinfo reporter
Consciousness is heightened awareness.
It grounds us in the present, ever mindful that this moment is the next perfect step in our personal evolution.

Sunday, 08 March 2009

Along the Moluti Mountains...

Memory lane ....Peddlediaries days


Drinking water is the birthright of humankind. However, safe drinking water is denied to the majority of the world's population. This is certainly true in most parts of Africa and Asia.
Even in relatively advanced countries such as India, safe drinking water is not readily available, especially in the rural areas. Here, the concern is not about any water (for other use) but about potable water, which can be consumed safely by human beings. Safe drinking water is a paramount requirement because 75 per cent of diseases in developing countries arise from polluted drinking water. It is high time that we bring about public awareness about safe drinking water. The knowledge of how to make water safe for consumption is not readily available to people in most developing countries. There are several good and simple scientific methods to purify polluted water to make it safe from drinking. This document describes some of the best ways available for purifying water by inexpensive methods, involving membranes, surface active materials and so on.
Based on the local needs situations, appropriate methods can be employed to obtain safe drinking water in the different parts of the developing world. To this end, we hope this document will be useful. Besides this document, we propose to prepare a simplified version in the form of a poster or a pamphlet. These publications will be advertised through scientific academies and other organizations in various developing countries. Each developing country could produce suitable in local and national languages, and employ various other ways of reaching the common people for
using these simple techniques. If we arouse the interest of all concerned, we may indeed make progress in solving one of the worst problems afflicting mankind.

Monday, 26 January 2009

The rubbish that lying on the banks of the river as we approach towns

We woke up with a clean smell in the air. The dust of the winter has been washed off. Everything looks brighter and more beautiful. I enjoy the paddle tremendously, nature is busy all around me. Some fishes bumping against my canoe, birds diving catching fish. There are more Hyasynths, even blocking some canals. Passing thatch roof homes in a nature reserve and a couple of bigger houses with green cultivated gardens. The change in scenery is so diverse, we came from the bush where we could only see the odd fishermen and houses way deep in far from the river to these houses.

Paddling past the houses we came across a man who's working with his team of men on a pipeline for a new development next to the river. He told us about Bert just past the next bridge and Lumana Resort where we might be able to camp. There is a thunderstorm on the horizon that scare Dante a loose cloud opens up above us and the rain pour over us. Quick decision time should I cover the bag at the back or should I paddle like mad to get in front of the cloud and out of the rain. But the drops are getting bigger and I quickly threw the poncho over the bag. There is a bridge not so far where we can hide under.

Swallow nests cover most of the bridge's bottom and they flew in flocks out when we paddled underneath them. It happened the other day with Liani when she paddled underneath a low bridge and these huge flocks flew out right above her head. A sight to be seen. Fascinated by the birds I noticed that it stopped raining but we made it to the side for Dante and Katryn to stretch their legs anyway.

Someone decided that its too much trouble to throw their baby's used diapers in a dustbin and came and threw it out underneath the bridge. We made it a quick stop for the dogs and were off to look for Lumana Resort. A long flat stretch of water around a turn in the river brought us to the resort. There were not a lot of people and I climbed out to go to the office and find out if its okay for us to pitch our tent. I followed directions given to me by campers and got lost eventually walking a long way up a cement road to the top at some houses next to the main road I found the office. Lallies helped me with everything we needed. Enthusiastically inquiring about our journey and giving us a gasstove to use to cook for tonight. She called her husband Andre to take me back to the campsite where he showed me a perfect spot, close to the restrooms, electrical plug and a light.

Lightning rain and willow trees

We have a strong wind in our backs pushing us forward. There is waves crashing against our front tip of our canoe where Dante lies. We are again in an unknown area where we don't know what lies ahead. The river is full of turns and rocky island here and there. With Willow tree branches swinging low in the water. There's an unbelievable amount of birdlife on this stretch of river with farmland on both sides of us. The wind is gusty and makes it hard to paddle. We have to work hard to keep our canoes in the right direction with the waves making it difficult not to turn over when indeed we get caught by the wind.

Liani pulled her sarong up and used it to ride the wind and score some paddle area. We soon were sitting laughing so much about how it must look funny, these two girls sitting on canoes with sarongs as sails two dogs and lots of bags and bottles hanging around the canoes. We found some people who were fishing who saw us. They dropped everything they were busy with and just stared at the spectaclefloating past them on the river. For a moment I thought we have missed the point the whole time. We are candidates for a funniest home video competition. We played on the river until late the afternoon when some thunder clouds started to build up on the horizon. A willow tree hanging low in the water offered us a sleeping place for the night. We pushed our canoes on to the bank and started to quickly unpack before it starts to rain. Our fresh water was almost finished and Liani offered to go fetch us some and even try and buy us a colddrink from the other side where we could see men fishing before they go hoome after work. She paddled hard to get to the other side when it started to rain. Stranded waiting in the rain, all the stories about willow trees and lighting came rushing through my head. Apparently there was some men who came to fish along the river who seeked shelter underneath a willow tree from the rain when a lightning bolt struck the tree and left one of the three dead and the other two unconcious. I ran up to a clearing with my poncho and called Dante and Katryn to lie underneath it. I stood in the first rain of the year feeling the drops fall hard onto my body. The water drops running down my legs and the breeze freezing my ankles. I anxiously looked into Liani's direction to see if she is still fine. She braved the wind, rain and lightning just to get us fresh water and maybe a colddrink. Standing on the far edge with only her sarong to keep her dry I felt proud to share this with her. She has been my anchor and has stood by my side through thick and thin. A true loyal friend. Thanks Liani

The thunderstorm lasted not that long and soon she was paddling back to us with Dante and Katryn frantic because we weren't all four together. With amazing scenes of lightning in the distance where the storm had past us a new storm was brewing on the horizon again. Winds swaying the willow tree way to its side and the fear implanted by all the lightning stories left us sitting in the door of the tent watching in anticipation. Its exhilirating how nature has this unbelievable strength and power that can not be tamed.I love it.

having fun with our sarongs as sails

My body is getting into paddle shape and I feel stronger but tired. We have covered quite some distance so far. Paddling against or with the wind works at my shoulders. My body is aching and yet I can't wait to see what the unknown has in store for us today. The river makes wide canals around sand and reed islands offering us a spot to swim and bath in the clear shallow water. The birds swimming around with Dante and Katryn chasing and running around the small island. There is people fishing on the North West side who again were fascinated by these two strange looking vessels with sarongs pulling them forward. They watched us for the whole time since we stopped at the island until we left.

Its too hot to be on the water over lunch time and we normally look for a tree canopy or shelter just to hide form the sun until three o clock. Preparing lunch catching up on Liani and Katryn's paddling stories packing and just resting.

We paddled along the river to find a spot where we can put up our tent for the night. The previous couple of nights have been hard to sleep and we couldn't get much sleep on the uneven ground with tuffs of grass and rocks sticking in our backs. Katryn also haven't slept much lately and catches up on her sleep while Liani paddles them forward. We have paddled for quite some time not finding a spot when we came around a corner where we saw a man fishing in the stream. We couldn't believe our luck there was a camp spot with toilets and electricity just past him.

Organising the canoes so that we can get our food and stuff form them before we go up to the spot was quite a mission with which Liani helped a tremendous lot. I paddle the canoes around the one bend and she pulled the canoes out the water one by one.

After pitching our tent Paul, came and invited us for a hot shower at their house not so far from the camp spot. But we were so tired and the scenery of lightning on the horizon left me with only one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to sit and admire and soak my unbelievable privilege of being here. I feel so small amidst all these powerful nature forces.

Background info on our travels...Thanks Liani

There are many ways in which we can get technical about the how’s, when’s and why’s we started this journey, but ours is a story, and there's only one thing to do with a story, you tell it.

By "us", I mean 2 girls, Maria Botha and Liani Broodryk, 2 Jack Russels, Katryn and Dante on bicycles, and our amazing journey through South Africa. This is how it started:
It was one night, at a get together, surrounded by friends and family, when the reality of the moment struck. What was usually fun and games, turned stale, suddenly! Stuck in the proverbial rut! The moment was too big to ignore, so, the obvious question was, where to go from here? So as if by design, we set off to St Lucia, to new horizons, self discoveries, and a tremendous awakening.

The 'challenge' was met once we rode into Cape Town, 3 months later, after some close calls and never felt before, intense moments, we knew that this was not the end by a long shot. So, it is here, where our journey truly begins. Everyday just suddenly had a reason, and every moment counted. It was difficult, the obstacles seemed impossible, but with this came the discovery of kindness, trust, love, humbleness and courage, and the loyalty and trust of animals and nature alike.
We became aware of a whole new world, one that was so endless in it's possibilities and opportunities, we almost couldn't believe it! Threatening this world however, is ignorance and the lack of fearless leaders, ones who inspire individuals to understand and pursue their innermost truth, instead we are misguided and made to believe that war and terror is our only choice. In the midst of all this violence and outrage, is some truly amazing individuals, who have made it their life's work, to reach out to those who have lost hope, and despite efforts to promote confusion, rage, fear, distrust, the way of the world as it is told through mighty mediums, such as the media,

Since we've left St Lucia, our lives have changed dramatically. We saw that through what we were doing, and by challenging our own fears, we were starting to capture the imagination of many and soon realized that our story needs to be told. It is one worth telling, for it could very well be everybody's discovery.

Through weird coincidences, we have joined various organizations in their efforts to heal the wounded, preserve mother nature, etc.. We realize though, that what we experience first hand, could be an effective enough medium, to relay the truth about the state of our country and it's people. It's not as 'bad' as everyone fears, in fact, it's an amazing adventure, and this is how we thought it should go:
We have thought to relay our adventures on a website, which will basically contain our daily diary, pictures, video footage, live chats, etc. A wildly interactive site, aimed at showing off the beauty and diversity of our country and it's people, and at the same time, raise awareness for issues and pandemics that needs attention.