Water Pollution

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General Introduction

South Africa is a relatively water poor country, and in many areas the demand for water is greater than can be supplied. These areas are generally known as “stressed” catchments (DWAF, 2004), and Mhlathuze catchment is one of them. Environmental degradation is one of the biggest challenges that the management of water resources in this catchment is confronted with. This is usually caused by anthropogenic activities that take place in the catchment that results in either regulation of river flows or an increase in the sediment flux that has both hydrological as well as geomorphic consequences (Tsokeli, 2005). Mhlathuze catchment, one of the multiple catchments of the Usuthu-Mhlathuze Catchment Management Agency (CMA), is a relatively small catchment with quite large areas of formal agriculture. Around Babanango, there is generally extensive livestock production that may pose pollution. Some erosion problems are also likely, particularly in the steep topography of the central valley area, which is predominantly subsistence agriculture. Areas of intensive vegetable production also exist. Towards the coast, the gradient flattens out, and sugar cane productions dominant, with soil loss and some nutrient and biocide contamination possible. Waste and bi-products from the milling of cane are potentially and historically sources of significant organic pollution. Land use changes in the catchment are some of the signatures that

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