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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

AMD emergency programme

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 March 2010

Short-term emergency steps have been introduced to reduce and treat uncontrolled Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from the West Rand, Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said.

Untreated acid water flows into the Tweelopiespruit through the Krugersdorp Game […]

Toxic minerals and acids at dangerous level

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 March 2010

Millions of litres of highly toxic and acidic water will flow out of Johannesburg’s mines and swamp the city over the next two years, causing structural damage to buildings and severely affecting residents’ health.

Johannesburg. Toxic water will eat away at the city's steel foundations

Scientists predict that if drastic steps are not immediately taken to plug disused mine shafts and pump out the acid mine drainage, the poisonous water will flow into rivers and low-lying areas in the country’s most populous city at a rate of up to 70 megalitres a day – as much as 1400 average-sized swimming pools.

A joint report of the departments of water affairs, mineral resources and environmental affairs, dated March 2009, was commissioned by water affairs director-general Pam Yako after concerns raised by activist group Federation for a Sustainable Environment. It says the grave acid mine drainage situation in Gauteng:

– Poses a potentially “catastrophic” threat to Johannesburg residents. The toxic water will eat away at steel in the foundations of buildings in the city;
– Threatens to “potentially destroy the Cradle of Humankind” world heritage site; and
– As the acidic, polluted water contains heavy metals and salts, it will “pose a risk to human health … while also having a significant negative impact on the economy.

Mariette Liefferink, chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, said long-term exposure to drinking water contaminated with acid mine drainage leads to increased rates of cancer, decreased brain function, and skin lesions.

Scientists say the toxic water will wreak havoc with the city’s water supply and affect farming along the Vaal River. Continue reading Toxic minerals and acids at dangerous level

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