E. coli levels a threat to Gauteng crops

Levels of E. coli in catchment areas in Gauteng have been increasing and could affect agricultural crop production, according to Lebogang Maile, Gauteng MEC for Economic Development.

E. coli levels a threat to Gauteng crops
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Speaking at the recent launch of the 2017 Gauteng State of Environment Report,  Maile said that infrastructure to monitor air and water quality had been deteriorating.

“[Increases] may be an indicator of untreated wastewater entering a stream due to noncompliance with operating capacity resulting in overflows,” the report said.

Farmer’s Weekly reported earlier that Maile had said municipal executives and private entities that failed to comply with anti-pollution measures would be prosecuted.

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Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, environmental scientist Mia Uys said that according to the water standard SANS 241:2015, the acceptable level of E. coli in drinking water are 0cfu (coliform forming units) per 100ml.

According to the report, 4 020km², or 22,1% of Gauteng’s land surface area, was used for pivot and non-pivot crop cultivation.

A further 17km² were used for orchards and 12km² for subsistence crops.

The report stated that there had been an increase in faecal coliform (measured as E. coli) concentrations from 2011, with most samples falling within the ‘not acceptable’ to ‘poor’ category.

All of the data indicated that ‘acceptable’ parameter had been exceeded in most of the catchments, with an increasing trend over the years.

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Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.