Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 January 2011
The Department of Water Affairs says it is doing everything possible to control the acid mine drainage (AMD) problem that has recently been made worse by heavy rains.
The department’s inter-ministerial committee, which was formed to address the problem last year, – will hand over a report to the cabinet in the next two weeks.
“We are on top of the acid mine drainage problem. We appointed a team of experts to compile a report. They have handed the report to us and we are happy with their findings and recommendations,” said the inter-ministerial committee spokesperson, Makhosini Nyathi.
AMD is a chemical reaction process that is a result of sulphate-bearing minerals or pyrite, found predominantly in gold mines, as well as in coal mines, being exposed to oxygen and water.
Nyathi said government acknowledged that AMD was a challenge that needed to be addressed urgently. “This should be done in a coordinated manner between a range of stakeholders that include the mining industry and government,” said Nyathi.
National Water Forum chairman Louis Meintjies said the problem with the contamination of water was not only due to AMD – but also with raw sewage getting into the water system.
“The past heavy rains have caused raw sewage from our treatment plants to overflow and get into our dams. The damage has been done – we need to urgently address this problem,” said Meintjies.
According to Mariette Liefferink of the Federation of Sustainable Environment the concerns pertaining to the problem of the decantation of AMD in the Witwatersrand areas, impacted on the Vaal river system and the Crocodile River.
She said the area comprised four basins in the Witwatersrand, namely the Eastern, Central, Western and Far Western Basins in the Witwatersrand. These stretch from Johannesburg, Springs, Germiston, Roodepoort, Krugersdorp, Randfontein, Westonaria and Carletonville.
“Several studies have been conducted in the areas to determine the nature of the problem and conclusions indicate that there are serious environmental challenges which, if not adequately addressed, result in an imminent crisis,” Liefferink said.
By: Tlalane Tshetlo
Source: The New Age