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Water Wise Watch - August 2018

03.08.18

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 This month at Water Wise

Does plastic pollution affect our freshwater systems?

While the focus of the war against plastic pollution is often on the effects on marine ecosystems, does plastic pollution affects our freshwater ecosystems? Research has shown that the accumulation of plastic in freshwater systems has far-reaching effects on both the wildlife and plants that that use rivers as habitats, but also the oceans that are fed by these rivers. 

Plastic pollution can be toxic to both humans and wildlife. Animals can mistake plastic for food and can get trapped in plastic, preventing them from feeding, drinking, or even breathing. The UN (United Nations) Environment Programme warns that the amount of terrestrial microplastic pollution (tiny particles of disintegrated plastic) is from four to twenty-three times greater than marine microplastic pollution. Once these particles enter the food chain they may leach potentially harmful substances into our soil and freshwater.
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Over the past few months, local and international news has been filled with devastating images of marine life entangled within various forms of plastic waste: turtles stuck in plastic beach chairs; tiny fish swimming within a plastic bag; the carcass of an albatross with a plastic-filled stomach; and kilometers upon kilometers of a plastic-covered ocean surface. These images are enough to jolt us into the realisation that our plastic use is, and will be, highly detrimental to our environment. 

While it is a great start to focus on plastic pollution as part of our international environmental days, such as World Environment Day in June, it is important not to forget the immensity of the situation. Recently, the focus has been on the reduction of single-use or disposable plastic items. These include Styrofoam containers, plastic straws, coffee stirrers, water bottles, most food packaging, and plastic bags.

Plastic pollution has a highly negative effect on freshwater too, which can affect the quality of our water supply.

Water Wise calls you to stand up against single-use plastic. Challenge big chains to reduce the use of disposable plastic. Look for alternatives such as stainless steel straws, paper bags, and biodegradable containers. The best way to make a difference is to do it together.

Garden World Presents its annual Spring Festival

"A Sense of Place"

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Garden World's Spring Festival is back! This year the theme 'A Sense of Place' challenges landscapers and gardeners to create designs that exude mood and atmosphere, with a sense of personal style. Once again, Water Wise joins the festivities with a creative and exciting Water Wise garden that displays the various ways to save water in the garden with zoning, mulching, and plant choice. Water Wise will also be awarding one of the landscaped gardens with the annual 'Water Wise Award' for the most Water Wise garden design. The Spring Festival runs from 27 July to 2 September so pop over and say hi to the Water Wise team!  

Watch out for more Water Wise events and don't forget to Be Water Wise!

Environmental Days and Public Holidays

9 August
National Women's Day
10 August World Lion Day
12 August World Elephant Day

Water Wise News

This SA-created irrigation system cuts water usage by up to 70% - and is revolutionising orchards

"Tree Hog cut an orchard’s water consumption by up to 70%, with minimum savings starting at 50%, says its inventor Louis Loubser, a farmer in Robertson in the Western Cape. The device is an injection-moulded plastic case with a micro sprinkler which encloses the base of a tree, and is designed to last up to eight years."
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Are our lawns biological deserts?

"Worried about your lawn drying up in the summer heat? A bigger threat may lie next door, in your neighbor’s lawns: they all look alike. Although the American Dream is no longer defined by white picket fences, tidy stretches of grass still line suburban streets in neighborhoods from coast-to-coast. Are these lawns "biological deserts" with declining biodiversity?"

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Beyond urban water security: the vulnerability of intermittent water supplies

"Many cities today are at risk of running out of water, with water availability now cited as one of the greatest risks to business continuity and growth. It is very clear that the way water is managed today in many parts of the world poses serious risks to human well-being and sustainable development."
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Will Day Zero Rain On Cape Town's Parade Again?

"Cape Town's drought has broken, and the city appears safe from Day Zero through 2019. But we are very far from being out of the woods regarding water...Do you hear that? It's the sound of toilets flushing in Cape Town. Soggy, wet days have broken Cape Town's drought, but business-as-usual..."

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