Surface water quality in the Okavango Delta panhandle, Botswana
The Okavango Delta, a Ramsar and a World Heritage Site, is an important source of food and water in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa. Although the eastern delta fan is a protected area, the rest, including the upstream panhandle, is unprotected. Water quality in the Okavango Delta panhandle from Popa Falls, Namibia, to lagoons in the north-western delta fan, was investigated between December 2006 and January 2009. Results were compared to those of a study undertaken in the lower panhandle in the mid-1980s, in order to identify changes, if any. Despite increased human activities and livestock, physical water quality parameters lay within the ranges set out in the water quality guidelines of South Africa, while most chemical substances were below detection limits. The microbiological water quality indicated that microbial concentration was highest in areas of increased human and livestock activity. In general, the water quality of the unprotected panhandle had remained unaltered after more than two decades of change and growing pressure on it.
Keywords: chemical parameters, conservation condition, microbiological parameters, physical parameters