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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950

Abstract

MMUALEFE, Lesego C  and  TORTO, Nelson. Water quality in the Okavango Delta. Water SA [online]. 2011, vol.37, n.3, pp. 411-418. ISSN 1816-7950.

The Okavango Delta ecosystem sustains a large number of plant and animal species as well as providing resources for the livelihood of the riparian human population. Despite changes in flow patterns, rainfall and other climatic conditions over the past decades, the system has responded well to maintain low salt-water balances through evapotranspiration and chemical precipitation processes. The electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids are generally low, with values less than 200 µS·cm-1 and averaging 40 mg·ℓ-1, respectively. The dissolved oxygen and dissolved organic carbon range from 1.8 to 8.8 and 5 to 15 mg·ℓ-1, respectively, while pH ranges from 6.7 to 10.3. Total nitrogen and phosphorus are generally low with maximum concentrations of 1.7 and 1.6 mg·ℓ-1, respectively, recorded downstream of the Delta. Even though most of these quality parameters are within limits for potable water, the Delta's ecosystem needs to be protected from anthropogenic activities. Past use of persistent organic pollutants requires monitoring of impacts of their residues on the plants and animal species within the ecosystem, in order to maintain its rich biodiversity. This review focuses on chemical quality data for water and sediments in the Okavango Delta published between 2000 and 2010. Despite the shortage of published data, it is hoped that this review will provide an overall picture of the status quo of the Delta's water and will set the direction for future monitoring efforts.

Keywords : Okavango Delta; water quality; pollution; metals; pesticides.

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