Krugersdorp basin polluted by acid water

2014-05-27 10:31

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Cape Town – Heavy acid drainage is becoming a major issue for an area near Krugersdorp.

Large amounts of acid water, that has been flowing since 2002, has caused a significant amount of damage to the western basin near Krugersdorp. The soil has become coated with a metal oxide according to a report by IOL.

Government ensured in 2012 that the surface flow would stop but heavy rains have caused the existing toxic water to flow into nearby untreated rivers.

The toxic pollution is so bad that some members from the nearby communities collect metal deposits and sell them for scrap metal.

Eucalyptus plants that grow near the water have bumps on their branches that look like little tumours, said Mariette Liefferink, the chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment.

The acid is from a number of disused mines near Krugersdorp. Water from the mines reacts with various metals in the rocks and this creates an acidic liquid that makes the metal soluble.

When the area receives a high amount of rain the toxic water seeps out and coats the nearby riverbeds and other surrounding areas.

The department of agriculture and rural development in Gauteng as created a five year plan to deal with the problem.

Loyiso Mkwana, an acting director with the department said that the problem is that this five plan is more of a framework and has no dates for implementation or who would be tasked to deal with the problem.

According to the MEC for Agriculture, Social and Rural Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza if no action is taken to deal with the acid drainage other parts of the basin near Krugersdorp will be polluted.

She projects that the central basin will be affected within a year, and the eastern basin could be polluted by 2016.

The MEC is calling for a long term solution.

Map

In January this year the Water Research Commission (WRC) announced that it would begin to map out surface and underground water currently influenced by mines

“The atlas will be a significant and timely contribution that can inform the implementation of commitments made in the past two years”, said Dr Jo Burgess, WRC research manager.

According to the WRC, the impacts of the mining industry on aquatic and terrestrial habitats are severe and have a long-term nature.

The atlas, comprising several chapters, will illustrate South Africa's hydrological characteristics and cover topics including water resources and water distribution.

These features will be overlaid with a map of mining activities in order to understand the areas where water resources and mining collide.

A major impact of mining activity on water sources occurs through acid mine drainage (AMD), where by-products of the mining process interact with water to create acidity with varying levels of toxicity.

According to Consultancy Africa Intelligence, the worst AMD cases are seen in the vicinity of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand. But communities along the Vaal and Limpopo Rivers are also being threatened.
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  water  |  environment  |  pollution

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