Improvement in Marine Water quality through enhanced Estuarine Management

Type of implementing organization: 
Project(s) linked to: 
Country of implementation: 
Duration of project: 
2 years
Objectives of project: 

To improve the status and conditions of Buffalo and Swartkops estuary waters in a manner that sustainably supports coastal ecological systems, goods and services, thus increasing adaptive management actions in the context of fitness for use by dependent groups of people.

Specific Objectives of Project:

Objective 1: To promote better understanding of the importance of the estuaries and negative environmental, economic and social impacts associated with poor water quality.

Objective 2: To develop a common water quality monitoring program to measure and report, on a regular basis, on the status of the Estuaries for different users.

Objective 3: To promote cleaner efficient water quality by preventing and reducing water pollution at source.


Project Summary:

Estuaries as the end-users of water of the entire catchment, reflect a lot on the land-use of the catchment and are essential areas to trap nutrients and other chemical compounds before discharge occurs into the adjacent coastal ocean. As popular areas for settlements and recreation, estuaries have been significantly impacted around the world through anthropogenic activities such as pollution, over-abstraction of freshwater in the catchment, excess nutrients from agricultural and urban runoff and increased erosion and sedimentation. In South Africa, several cities, agriculture, tourism, residential developments and recreational activities are concentrated along the coast but primarily focus around or adjacent to estuaries.  These developments impact on estuaries in the way of nutrient over-enrichment, siltation, and reduced freshwater inflow due to freshwater abstraction and so on. Currently, it is impossible to get a clear picture of the water quality status of the Buffalo and Swartkops estuaries at any given time and space or detect any possible trends. Other challenges include the fact that different Water Monitoring initiatives are ongoing either short-term or one-off programmes; there are monitoring programmes designed for various purposes, linked to mandates leading to fragmentation and overlaps plus inefficiency in limited resources utilizations. The aggregated impacts are unknown since water quality data is incompatible due to different methods and difficulty in accessing it.

The Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), through this project, seeks to investigate the causes and impacts of impaired water quality on the living marine resources and associated dependent communities in order to uphold legal obligations and improve national standards and guidelines for water quality maintenance. The envisaged aim of this project is to ‘ensure that marine water quality is ‘fit for use’ for different users with the possibility of setting thresholds for multi-users in a stressed environment’. This project will result in providing a conducive environment in terms of good water quality for sustainable local economic development while minimizing environmental and social impacts associated with poor water quality resulting from discharge of untreated effluents into estuary waters. Special consideration will be given to reducing increasing levels of pollution that are threatening human health, fish stocks contamination, monitoring sources, thus restoring sustainable integrity of coastal ecosystems goods and services.

This process will result in the following:

  • Situational analysis which draws from stakeholder inputs, literature review and consensus discussions on ecological system for socio-economic development
  • Provision for holistic implementation of corrective measure to be applied in addressing strategic issues, pollution challenges, mutual interests and compliance with legislation
  • Adaptive management towards the restoration of ecological infrastructure that sustains healthy estuaries which satisfy biodiversity value, thus improving estuary management activities and deliver essential goods and services on a sustainable basis.
  • Catalytic interventions, high impact projects and water quality monitoring protocol
  • Active stakeholder involvement and community participation in corrective measures.
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