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Acidic water reaches Cradle of Mankind

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 January 2011

Acidic mine water that has been bubbling out of an old ventilation shaft on the West Rand for the past year has now reached the Cradle of Mankind, and is believed to have caused the deaths of over 60 carp in a dam.

The whole shore area of the Tweelopiespruit is coloured dark orange. Photo: Alistair-Clacherty

This is the opinion of Dr Francois Durand of the Department of Zoology at the University of Johannesburg, after environmental experts found the dead fish in an irrigation dam in the Blaauwbankspruit.

This stream runs from the Tweelopiespruit, which springs from the radioactive Robinson lake outside Randfontein. From here it runs through the Krugersdorp game reserve, “over” the Sterkfontein Caves, right through the Cradle of Mankind up to the Crocodile River, which runs into the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Neil Norquoy from Wild Cave Adventures found the dead fish on the farm Koelenhof on Thursday.

Millions of litres

The farm is about 10km northeast of the place where millions of litres of acidic mine water has been leaking on the West Rand since last year.

The dam is situated about 3km northeast of the Sterkfontein Caves.

Norquoy said he was virtually convinced that the acidic mine water led to the deaths of the fish as the channels around the dam were a bright orange colour. The orange deposit was a sign of the large amount of iron in the acidic mine water.

Durand said the pollution had spread from the old Rand Uranium goldmine on the West Rand and has now spread north to within the Cradle of Mankind.

At this stage, it has already passed the Sterkfontein Caves as the Blaaubankspruit runs “over” the Sterkfontein Caves.

Water specialist Garfield Krige agreed with Durand and said he believed the acidic mine water of the West Rand had reached the Hartbeespoort Dam “long ago”. Continue reading Acidic water reaches Cradle of Mankind

Massive pollution threat to economic heartland

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 […]

Minister responds to charges for Hartbeespoort pollution

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 June 2010


The Department of Water Affairs has noted with concern recent media reports of an environmental lobby group -the Environment and Conservation Association, which is said […]

Minister to face charges for failure to protect water resources

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 June 2010

The East Rand-based Environment and Conservation Association is preparing to bring criminal charges against Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica for her failure to attend to pollution that is contaminating the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Hartbeespoort dam water quality

Nicole Barlow, the chairwoman of the association, said the organisation’s legal representatives were finalising a comprehensive draft of criminal charges to be laid at the Rustenburg police station against the minister and President Jacob Zuma for their failure to uphold section 24 of the Constitution, which requires the government to protect water resources.

“The issue of the pollution of the Hartbeespoort Dam has been going on for a very long time, stemming mainly from untreated sewage and acid mine drainage from the mining companies in the Witwatersrand,” Barlow said.

Despite limited resources, the organisation had been conducting quarterly tests that found that the fish in the dam were bleeding from the nose, mouth and gills, she said. Continue reading Minister to face charges for failure to protect water resources

Acid mine water flows into wetland

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 February 2010

Source: Earthlife Africa Jhb

Acid mine water is pouring out of an old mine shaft on the West Rand, near Randfontein. The water is untreated and contains toxic heavy metals, including radioactive uranium. It flows down hill into a wetland area, to join the Tweelopiespruit which eventually flows into the Crocodile River. There is a strong smell of hydrogen sulphide – a toxic gas that can be very dangerous at high concentrations.

Acid mine water overflowing from an old mine shaft on the Black Reef Incline, near Rand Uranium's treatment pond, 30 January 2010.

Some ELA Jhb members visited the area on 30 January 2010. In response, a member wrote the article below about the environmental crisis on the West Rand.

Acid Mine Drainage – is this the end of life in Gauteng?

Judith Taylor, A member of Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce Water Commission and EarthLife Africa Johannesburg

“What does this mean?  Simply this – a deadly cocktail of chemicals has become part of the water leaking from mine shafts into our dolomitic (vulnerable rock formations that are very soft and easily degraded) areas.  This cocktail includes various sulphates, and metals such as lead, magnesium, cadmium, bismuth, and radioactive uranium, strontium (one of uranium’s progeny) and radium which decays into radon, radon gas, polonium, and thorium.

In the Witwatersrand, the dolomite is being eaten away by this water, which is in the “basins” or void, under the Witwatersrand Ridge.  Already, it is decanting or leaking into our ground water and many people have been seriously affected by this.  Some farms have been so badly affected that they are no longer operative.

Not only our water, but our food security is threatened, as the pollutants in the soil and water get into food crops.

Recent rains have led to the most recent overflow of acid mine water on the West Rand (mid-January 2010). Continue reading Acid mine water flows into wetland