Mpumalanga town faces acid water crisis

2012-02-16 11:44

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.

  • Brett - 2012-02-16 12:10

    Believe me this is only the beginning. Heard about the typhoid problem in Zim?

  • Chris - 2012-02-16 12:11

    Sluit die skuldiges toe en gee die water aan hulle om te drink

  • Ze Don - 2012-02-16 12:20

    Why are the residents of this town drinking untreated water in the first place?

      Marcell - 2012-02-16 12:30

      A normal run of the mill water purification plant can not treat this water. Some time ago some ancESTORS said there are no acid water crisis. Imagine the effect that something like this will have on say Johannesburg. Chaos within a week.

      Michael - 2012-02-16 12:38

      I do't know if you know this, but without water, humans can die. So if you cannot afford Valpre, rather untreated water, than nothing at all.

  • Jean Smith - 2012-02-16 12:30

    We can help Carolina. To stop acid water

  • SM1012 - 2012-02-16 12:33

    The sad part is that they GOVT is really a playing field...who's to blame now?

  • Michael - 2012-02-16 12:36

    water problem? what water problem?

      Marcell - 2012-02-16 12:45

      Time to take the klippies neat.

  • Kekeletso Nakeli - 2012-02-16 12:45

    While they're there, could they sommer test the water in Delmas...

      emgro.natrology - 2012-02-16 18:02

      The same problems in Delmas. Chris

      Kekeletso Nakeli - 2012-02-16 21:10

      I don't even live in Delmas, I just visit. I feel for people from there, who pay Rates and Taxes and still have to buy huge amounts of bottled water, which half the time is over priced! Its a shame.

  • Anthony Mayoss - 2012-02-16 12:49

    Prosecute them..!? How about fixing the problem..!? Wait wait, “prosecute” means fine fine = money.... Mmmmm see where this is going....

  • StarStruck - 2012-02-16 12:50

    Why does the department of water and minerals not know who the owners where? Why was an investigation not done when the mine closed down? The department should have known these facts before this problem started. Is this not common knowledge? Water is “skaars” and we have mines in almost every town on the plateau.

  • Stephen - 2012-02-16 13:00

    The problem with "polluter pays principle" is that often in the case of old abandoned mines, the mining companies no longer exist and there is no one to prosecute. Department of Mineral Resources therefore needs to step up and sort it out. Nowdays, all legal mining operations need to set-up and maintain sufficient closure funds (in the form of cash, bank and insurance guarentees etc.) to be able to properly close and rehabilitate the mine prior to getting their closure certifcate (from the DMR) and passing the land on to the next owner (who then becomes responsibe for any pollution etc.). These closure liabilities are calculated on an annual basis and the top-up provision provided in the event the mine closed tomorrow (as well as, looking forward to end of mine closure). These regulations will go a long way in preventing this type of pollution happening again, but it unfortunately does not resolve any old historic liabilities.

      Marcell - 2012-02-16 13:18

      Good idea but as we all know, anvESTORS can not be trusted with Mandela money.

  • samuel.weller - 2012-02-16 13:06

    who ever reads this we may have a solution for you, contact us at

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-16 13:09

    Acid drainage has been on the watch list since the ANC took power, the only people to blame are the ANC and their cadre who failed to do anything about it. The drainage only became a focal point after it had started decanting which means that the aquifers under Johannesburg are already contaminated beyond usability. This problem will it appears continue until we no longer have any clean or drinkable water left. Just another failure by the saviours of the masses.

      StarStruck - 2012-02-16 13:25

      Look I agree that the ANC have made a mountain of irreversible mistakes that affect all of us so I hear you. I just think it's time to start acting. The ANC seems to only listen to the screams and shouts of the masses and not individuals raising concerns in an orderly fashion and even less if you are white skinned and throwing a tantrum like a five year old. Carolina residents should come together and demand and investigation into this problem. The lack of foresight in this matter needs to be exposed for everyone to see. Tax money seems to be going down a massive drain and I would like to see exactly how much the water and mineral department actually know about the environment. This just goes to show everyone how vulnerable we all are to these crippled state departments.

  • malvina.vanbreemen - 2012-02-16 13:33

    ? ph levels? "pouring lime into the town's polluted water system in an attempt to neutralise high pH levels" This is insanely poor reporting!!! If the ph of this water is "high" then it is alkaline, not acid - see Wikipedia "Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at 25 °C (77 °F). Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline"

      newparadigms - 2012-02-16 14:51

      Yeah I cant believe the reporting. And even the readers dont see the errors- Here is another one: "Town councillor Albert Mngomezulu said pouring lime into the water only temporarily raised high pH levels, and was clearly not a long-term solution." Lol. it should be "temporarily raised low pH levels"

  • Jennifer - 2012-02-16 15:22

    Here we go on another head in the sand bum in the air ANC nightmare . Stop voting for them, they don't care about you, your children or anyone other than themselves. They will probably not be thinking of you as the whiskey and champagne and fresh water passes their lips ... God will deal with you shepherds that destroy the flock...He always does. P.S. who do you think will be there to vote for you when you have trampled and devoured the flock?

  • Giancarlo - 2012-02-16 20:19

    If I owned a farm and I was very rich I would build a sewage farm on my plot and have the local stream that goes past my farm lead straight into that and at the end were I pump out the clean water back into the river I set up a water turbine so I can clean the water and generate power for the community.... Hows that

  • Dirk - 2012-02-21 11:04

    Check out and contact us for solutions to all your water quality problems. Also like our Facebook page for regular updates!

  • pages:
  • 1