Mogale tap water safe to drink

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Krugersdorp – Residents of Mogale City in the West Rand, which was predominantly a mining area, have been assured that their tap water is safe to drink by Gauteng MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza.

“Tap water is safe to drink in Mogale City. Remember, as Gauteng we are leading in terms of safe drinking water,” said the MEC, who was in Krugersdorp on Tuesday to raise awareness on Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and mining pollution.

AMD refers to the flow of water from mine dumps and shafts of old mines and in Mogale City, most of the mining companies closed down and left behind the legacy of AMD and mining pollution.

The water becomes acidic because it flows over pyrite-based rocks such as gold-bearing ore or coal bearing seams of rock.

However, the MEC said the release of contaminated mining water into the rivers had been affecting quality in both surface and ground water since mining started in the region.

She said the problem became more acute when the mining activities stopped as nobody would take responsibility for dealing with water flooding old mining voids and eventually filling some of the compartments and outflowing through an old mining shaft or through a natural spring to surface.

“The reality is that we cannot wish away the mining sector. As government, we want the mining industry to grow the economy through creating jobs to our people, but they should put plans in place to manage AMD,” she said.

The MEC said high-level government intervention was initiated in 2010 when a team of experts was tasked to find a solution to the problem. A report released by the experts called for urgent interventions.

She said an immediate and short term intervention by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) aimed to neutralise untreated water decanting from the Western Basin and to pump and treat water from voids in the West, Central and Eastern Basins.

“A High Density Sludge (HDS) technology and chemical reagent combination has been selected to neutralise the pumped water in the Western, Central and Eastern basins, but the process will not remove all dissolved salts, heavy metals and radioactive contaminants.

“The contract to build a new HDS treatment plant in the Germiston area has been awarded,” she said.

The MEC said more interventions by national government were planned in the West Rand.

The National Development Plan suggests a strong focus on Green Economy and a balance between development of sectors such as mining, agriculture and rural development.

Recently, the department developed the Gauteng Mine Residue Areas Strategy which looked at mining pollution from sustainable land use perspective.

It focus on aligning all existing efforts within government in order to enable the extensive mine residue areas to be reclaimed or rehabilitated to the point where the affected land becomes safe for human use.

The UN has said that acid mine drainage is the second biggest problem the world is facing after Global Warming.

The impact of AMD is that it contaminates water in rivers or streams and makes it unsafe for drinking and a health hazard for