Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 July 2010
A double whammy from the pollution legacy of more than 100 years of gold mining on the Witwatersrand, and inadequately maintained sewage works could leave South Africa’s economic heartland facing a water crisis of epic proportions within two years if drastic interventions by the government and industry are not urgently put into place. The cost involved could be in the order of R500 billion, but if left unattended, the looming pollution crisis could hamstring growth and cause a plague of health problems.
A report with recommendations from the Chamber of Mines more than 60 years ago to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, aimed at securing the quality of South Africa’s water resources, went by unheeded.
The Jordaan Commission warned eight years later in 1960 about imminent problems concerning the increased levels of iron, sulphates and manganese.
The recommendations made at the time did not receive any serious attention from the government of the day.
Now environmentalists warn that without urgent action, mine water as corrosive as battery acid will gush from Joburg’s Wemmer Pan and seep into the city’s streets and gardens within two years. Among others, the integrity of buildings in the central business district could be threatened.