Dept of Environmental Affairs pumps R40-million into WSU for water research programme

APRIL 27, 2016

In a bid to curb water pollution, the Walter Sisulu University (WSU), in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), will champion water pollution research through a partnership aimed at collecting and analysing water quality, sediment and biota samples along the country’s coastline.

Delegates from both the DEA and WSU will be on hand on Thursday 28 April to pen a three-year R40 million agreement that will see the DEA establish a laboratory within the institution aimed at collecting and analysing water quality samples.

The lab will be charged with:

  • Providing baseline water quality info that will support long term assessment of accumulative impacts associated with ocean economy;
  • Providing baseline into on water quality of the natural receiving environment (ecosystem functioning) near land based sources of pollution;
  • Supporting recreational coastal water quality monitoring at local government municipalities; and
  • Building capacity in the field of marine water quality, sediment, mussel samples analysis

“The National Coastal Management Programme developed under the Integrated Coastal Management Act calls for the development of dedicated, co-ordinated and integrated coastal monitoring and reporting systems to measure progress in coastal management and reporting on variability and trends in biophysical, social and economic characteristics and processes in the coastal zone. “

“Monitoring and reporting is one of the measures that can be used in the realisation of the environmental right as enshrined in the constitution,” says DEA Deputy Director-General Dr Monde Mayekiso.

He says the monitoring of water quality in marine and coastal water on South African coastlines is currently fragmented, uncoordinated and non-uniform, whilst contemporary monitoring initiatives don’t use standardized analytical methodologies and protocols, leading to a number of challenges.

“In addition, details of the analytical methods used in many programmes aren’t readily made available. It’s thus impossible to get a clear picture of water quality status of South African coastal and marine environment at any given time, or discern any possible trends,” added Mayekiso.

In response, the lab would produce reliable data and information on the quality of the receiving coastal waters to support environmental management.

The lab is scheduled to be operational shortly after the formal agreement has been signed, with the first water quality samples analysed for the Eastern Cape.  It’s expected that the lab will operate beyond the three-year project term, by providing water quality data and information for the DEA and other coastal water uses.

It’s also expected to build competence in the field of water quality monitoring and pollution and act as a reference lab.