Don’t Fiddle with our Water Factories!

In nature, there is no magic water factory – the water on the earth now is the same water that has been here since the beginning of time. Whether in the Karoo or the forests of the Congo, the basics of the water cycle are the same: Water falls on the land as rain, snow, sleet, hail and mist, runs into our rivers, fills our dams and underground aquifers, and flows out to the oceans. The sun evaporates this water, clouds form and some of it falls again on the land. This is the water that we all use. Only 3% of the water on our planet is fresh water (as opposed to saline) and only 1% is available for our use.

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South Africa is a water scarce, semi-arid country, and unfortunately, even the little water we do have is often badly managed, used wastefully and polluted. It seems crazy then that hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which uses a lot of water AND pollutes water, should even be considered an option to boost our energy resources! A number of technical cooperation permits have been issued in the Midlands and Berg foothills, which give the holders rights to research the area as a desktop exercise with a view to fracking. In order to verify the amount of shale gas present and its viability as an energy source, prospecting – or exploration – as it is termed in the oil and gas sector, will need to take place. This activity has the potential to affect groundwater quality. Rhino Oil & Gas have applied for their Exploration Permits and Public Participation Meetings take place across the Midlands in November 2015.

frack fish01

The KZN Midlands is a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area.   The role of the Drakensberg and foothills as the ‘water factories’ of KwaZulu-Natal cannot be underestimated. Intact grasslands are important for storing rainwater in wetlands or as ground water which is gradually released throughout the year. It is vitally important to protect these areas which sustain the flow of clean water, supporting the lives and livelihoods of nearly 6 million people downstream. Other free ecosystem services provided by these Midlands grasslands include pollination, soil production, flood water attenuation, carbon storage, cultural and recreational amenities and support to subsistence livelihoods. The uMngeni River catchment supplies 1000 million litres per day of potable water to a vast area including Howick, Hilton, Edendale, Wartburg, Vulindlela, most of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

We oppose the use of fracking to recover natural shale gas. How do you feel?  Please sign the petition if you too are concerned.


The risk of contamination of groundwater in an already water-stressed environment is simply unacceptable. Despite assurances from potential extractors that the technique is safe, evidence of failed safety measures and resultant contamination is increasingly common in areas where fracking has been undertaken, even under first world conditions. We can’t drink gas!  Attend one of the Public Participation meetings:

•        2November 09h30 Ashburton Hall            

•         2 November 14h30 Richmond Agricultural Hall

•         3 November 09h30 Imvunolu School          

•         3 November 14h30 Lion’s River Club

•         4 November 09h30 Colenso Hall                

•         4 November 14h30 Mooi River Country Club

•         5 November 09h30 New Hanover Hall         

•         5 November 114h30 Greytown Lodge Hall

•         6 November 09h30 Mthembu Hall               

•         6 November 14h30 VA Makhoba Hall

•         7 November 09h30 Nkandla Hall

Want to be better informed about this issue? Learn more here:

Treasure the Karoo Action Group:

Midlands KZN:

Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme:



About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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