Mpumalanga town faces acid water crisis
Mbombela - Municipal authorities in Carolina, Mpumalanga, are pouring lime into the town's polluted water system in an attempt to neutralise high pH levels, it was reported on Thursday.
Suspected seepage from two abandoned coal mines in the Nkomati catchment area had made the town's water supply too acidic, and thus undrinkable, Beeld reported.
Tests conducted by town authorities revealed iron levels in the water were seven times higher than the acceptable level for drinking water. Aluminium levels were 140 times higher, manganese levels 3 000 times higher, and sulphate levels twice as high, the newspaper reported.
Problems with the town's water supply began in early January, when residents first noticed the water tasted strange. Local authorities warned residents on January 11 that the water was not fit for human consumption.
DA councillor and local farmer Helen McGinn said when people poured bleach into the water to purify it, it took on a jelly-like consistency and turned a rusty colour.
Around 15 000 residents are relying on water from water trucks, or if they can afford it, are buying bottled water.
Town councillor Albert Mngomezulu said pouring lime into the water only temporarily raised high pH levels, and was clearly not a long-term solution.
He also said a government task team had been appointed to find out who owned the abandoned coal mines.
"If we manage to trace the owners, we can prosecute them," he said.