Specialising in
Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Electricity production places water resources at risk

Coal mining is of particular risk to ground water resources

An environmental report has found that the use of water in electricity production is having a negative impact on the water resources for the country and may have long-term detrimental effects.

The Water Hungry Coal: Burning South Africa’s water to produce electricity report produced by environmental organisation Greenpeace argues that the use of coal to produce electricity has resulted in an unsustainable outlook for South Africa’s water.

“Ironically, burning coal to produce electricity is an incredibly water intensive process, with a number of serious implications for both water quantity and quality,” Greenpeace said.

In Eskom’s latest system status bulletin, the utility says that peak demand on Monday was 31 366MW which it met through running at near capacity of 34 250MW.

The utility has been under strain this year as it has been forced to conduct maintenance while avoiding the rolling blackouts that crippled the country in 2008.

“The demand is increasing and we have not invested early enough,” Eskom CEO Brian Dames told News24. “Some of our power plants are 30 and 35 years old; they have to be maintained.” Continue reading Electricity production places water resources at risk

Mine levy to fund treatment of acid water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 March 2011

The government is looking at introducing a tax on mines as a way to force them to pay for the drainage of acid mine water into the water system.

Acid mine drainage seepage above an old abandoned underground coal mine near Witbank. Picture by: Christy van der Merwe

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in Johannesburg on Saturday that even though the government had provided R400 million for clearing and cleaning derelict mines, it was not going to “keep quiet and sit back”.

“Other mines will become derelict into the future. That is when the drainage starts,” she said.

“We have decided that even though we are funding this project, we will follow up with users and operators and using Section 19 and 20 of the Water Act to try and retrieve money for them,” she said.

“We are investigating a possible environmental levy of some sort or a tax, which is money we will be able to use to clean up where a problem of this nature occurs.”

Molewa said the department was working closely with mining houses to recycle mine water.

“We are investigating whether we can use this water as grey water for industry or potable water for drinking,” she said, adding that the department was exploring a range of ways to improve the efficiency of South Africa’s water usage. Continue reading Mine levy to fund treatment of acid water

AMD to be pumped only in 2012

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 February 2011

The government plans to set up a chain of pumping stations and treatment plants to prevent toxic liquids that are building up in defunct gold mines beneath Johannesburg from reaching dangerous levels.

Acid mine water overflowing from an old mine shaft on the Black Reef Incline, near Rand Uranium's treatment pond, 30 January 2010. Photo under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 licence.

The costs will be made known in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s national Budget today. But the government insists that the clock is not ticking as acidic mine water is expected to reach environmentally critical levels under Johannesburg only by June 2012, according to government officials and scientists at a briefing yesterday.

The cabinet also agreed that “further work needs to be done” to investigate the possibility of an environmental levy – to be spent on restoring the environment in mined areas – for consideration by the cabinet.

Water has already leaked from old mines west of Johannesburg in the “western basin”.

“Work in the western basin is immediate,” Thibedi Ramontja, the chief executive of the Council for Geoscience, said after the briefing.

Federation for a Sustainable Environment chief executive Mariette Liefferink said yesterday that while it was heartening for the government to acknowledge the threat of acid mine drainage, pumping the poisonous water only in March 2012 was a reactive measure. Continue reading AMD to be pumped only in 2012

Flooding may cause drinking water contamination

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 January 2011

Recent widespread flooding may increase the risk for outbreaks associated with the contamination of drinking water sources, warns the Water Research Commission (WRC). However, the risk of outbreaks can be minimized if the risk is well recognized and disaster-response addresses the provision of clean water as a priority.

The obvious impact of the floods is damage to crops, irrigation equipment and farming infrastructure. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Mr Jay Bhagwan, Director at the WRC, says “There is an increased risk of infection with water-borne diseases contracted through direct contact with polluted waters, such as wound infections, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and ear, nose and throat infections”.

Floods may indirectly lead to an increase in vector-borne diseases through the expansion in the number and range of vector habitats. Standing water resulting from heavy rainfall or overflow of rivers can act as breeding sites for mosquitoes, and therefore enhance the potential for exposure of the disaster-affected population and emergency workers to infections.

Bhagwan further says “Flooding may initially flush out mosquito breeding, but it comes back when the waters recede. The lag time is usually around 6-8 weeks before the onset of a malaria epidemic”.

“Generally, floods contribute to the lessening or the dilution of pollutants provided there are no sewage and chemical spills. A bigger concern is the increase in the sediments, plants, trees, litter and other objects” Bhagwan adds. Continue reading Flooding may cause drinking water contamination

Concern over polluted water supply following floods

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 January 2011

The National Water Forum voiced concern over the pollutive effect of the recent flooding on the country’s water supply.

Flooding in Gauteng.

NWF national chairman Louis Meintjies said that in Gauteng, acid mine […]