Threats to Kamfers Dam's flamingos

Kamfers Dam receives most of its water from the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s Homevale Sewerage Works, Kimberley’s main sewage treatment works.

For several years there has been inadequate attention to infrastructure and maintenance at the sewerage works and, as a result, poor quality sewage water flows into Kamfers Dam. The Sol Plaatje Municipality does not have suitably qualified people to manage the sewage works. Investments in infrastructure and professional time by private companies to upgrade the sewage works had all gone to waste after it was handed back to the Municipality to manage.

Recent rapid growth and development in Kimberley and resultant increase in the production of sewage has resulted in raw sewage flowing into Kamfers Dam as the sewage works has insufficient capacity to deal with the supply.

Another problem is uncontrolled stormwater, which will have the effect of flooding the well established flamingo breeding island, as well as flooding the foundations of Kimberley's major railway lines and thus disrupting rail traffic.

Recent studies have shown that Kamfers Dam’s water quality is deteriorating, probably now at an exponential rate.

There was a recent severe algal bloom at Kamfers Dam, but fortunately only of non-toxic cyanobacteria (Spirulina and Cyclotella).

Mass die-offs of Lesser Flamingos in East Africa have been attributed to toxins produced by Microcystis cyanobacteria and it may not be long before such mass die-offs occur at Kamfers Dam. Some of Kamfers Dam’s juvenile flamingos already have abnormalities (see ‘Are our flamingos ill?’).

Severe algal bloom, February 2008

Raw sewage flowing into Kamfers Dam in June 2008