A PROCEDURE TO DEVELOP AND MONITOR WETLAND RESOURCE QUALITY OBJECTIVES
There is a clear challenge with respect to the link between development and sustainable wetland management. The challenge is to maintain and reinstate the functions of South Africa’s wetlands in order to ensure that the per capita ecosystem service levels provided by wetlands keep pace with a developing population and its growing demands on the resource base. This can only be achieved by giving effect to the National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998) (NWA) in co-operation with other relevant authorities and stakeholders. The procedure aims to provide a recommended standardized procedure for determining Resource Quality Objectives (RQOs) for wetlands. It should be used to guide authorities of key departments, catchment managers, classification and RQOs consultants, and specifically wetland specialists through the recommended procedure to develop and monitor RQOs for wetlands.
What are Resource Quality Objectives (RQOs)?RQOs are defined in the National Water Act as “clear goals relating to the quality of the relevant water resources.” The RQOs are numerical and narrative descriptors of quality, quantity, habitat and biotic conditions that need to be met in order to achieve the required management scenario (NWA, Act No. 36 of 1998). Why are RQOs set?The purpose of RQOs is to establish clear goals relating to the quality of the relevant water resources. In determining RQOs a balance must be sought between the need to protect and sustain water resources on the one hand, and the need to develop and use them on the other (NWA, Act No. 36 of 1998). Who are they set for?RQOs are measurable management goals that give direction to water resource managers as to how the resources need to be managed (DWA, 2011). Determining RQOs forms a vital part of the water resources management cycle, as only when managers have clear objectives will protection of the resources become a reality.