Comments

Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng

Written by  Saturday Star Friday, 21 October 2016 17:07
Rate this item
(0 votes)

In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green because the sprinklers run all day. There's little sense of alarm at the fast-declining water levels in the Vaal water system after which the suburb is named.

But not for long. Rand Water, where Mosai works as the chief operations officer, has informed the region's municipalities it will reduce water supplies. Water-shedding and water throttling will follow.

"We just don't have an appreciation for water," says Mosai. "It's a problem that we need to wake up to. We're talking about 300 litres per person per day in Gauteng. The world average is 170 litres. The World Health Organisation says you can go to 25 litres for cooking, bathing and flushing. Drinking water is being used to fill swimming pools and gardens."

Rand Water has run water-savings campaigns since 2014. "But it just didn't go anywhere... For the Vaal system to recover we need three years, and even if we have good rainfall for the whole of December, it's not enough.

Mosai called municipal water utilities to a meeting this week to discuss water leaks. "Joburg Water told us they fixed 88 percent of leaks in September in time… I don't know how they've done it, but Mogale City has done well with these water restrictions, stopping sprinkler systems in their area."

Dr Chris Herold, president of the SA Institution of Civil Engineering, believes reducing Rand Water's supply at source is the only way to attain the water restriction target fast enough.

"The delay in promulgating and then implementing the 15 percent water restrictions on municipal demand for the first four months of the water planning year means that we have lost 81 million cubic metres of water that cannot be replaced before the current drought is broken, except by imposing even more stringent water restrictions. Hence, to balance the books, we would need to attain a 22.5 percent reduction during the remaining eight months of the year."

He blames decades of municipal failure to curtail water leaks and implement other water demand management measures and the "shocking failure" of the Department of Water and Sanitation to maintain and refurbish the critically important pumps required to transfer water from the Tugela River to Sterkfontein Dam and from the Usutu River to Heyshope Dam.

"Self-preservation dictates that we have to get the water restrictions working quickly by whatever means possible. A little inconvenience now is nothing compared with the tears that will be shed in future if taps run dry for months or even years."

The drought and the growing water deficit in the Vaal river system were not unforeseen, believes Mariette Liefferink, of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment.

"The department's reconciliation strategies for the Vaal river system showed for years a growing deficit and recommended acid mine drainage be desalinated by 2014/2015 and that the Lesotho Highlight Water Project Phase II be constructed by 2020 to mitigate the growing deficit. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II will now be implemented only by 2025."

 

 

MINING

Tours of West Rand gold fields

The FSE conducts regular tours with interested and affected parties, of the West Rand gold fields and Sibanye Gold’s operations. 

Mine Shafts: Accidents waiting to happen

  Eighty-two shafts without warning signs.  Twenty-two open shafts.  Three wate...

Residents left in the dark over AMD treatment

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has been accused of “authorising po...

SA NEWS

Lauded for research on SA acid mine drainage

The launch of Acid mine drainage in South Africa: Development actors, policy impacts and broader implications, by Suvania Naidoo, took place on 10 February 2017. The book has proven to be a timely publication because of the incipient water crisis in South Africa. The event was hosted by Unisa’s Department of Development Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The guests were welcomed by the chair of the department, Prof Gretchen du Plessis, who expressed that “development studies is an ever-changing discipline and is a space where different issues converge”. She further stated that the book fills a void in our knowledge about acid mine drainage (AMD) and that the publication is “an example of hard work which results in big achievements”.

Truth of the dust that brings death

  A new hard-hitting report from Harvard Law School details how South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations concerning gold mining in and around Joburg. Bonnie Docherty, who led the research, spoke to Sheree Bega

Harvard Report: The Cost of Gold

A report has been published by the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic titled "The Cost of Gold: Environmental, Health, and Human Rights Consequences of Gold Mining in South Africa’s West and Central Rand.   The reports states, "The complex web of responsible government agencies and repeated legislative changes to that organizational structure have impeded the development of a coordinated plan to deal with the negative effects of mining. The limited scope of action, inadequate attention to at-risk communities, and insufficient consideration of environmental concerns have undermined the completeness of any response."

SA hasn't protected residents from gold mine pollution: Harvard report

JOHANNESBURG South Africa has failed to protect residents affected by pollution from contaminated water and mine dumps over more than 130 years of gold mining near Johannesburg, an independent investigation by the Harvard Law School said.

WATER

Eastern Basin acid water plant is "sledgehammer"

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has used a "sledgehammer" for its R1bn treatment plant for acid mine drainage (AMD) on the Eastern mining basin that could ultimately create more toxic water.  This is the view of water strategy and consulting mining hydrologist Kym Morton, who believes government is "wasting money" by pumping large volumes of water and adding lime that makes it alkaline but still toxic and hazardous. 

SABC Health Talk, Environmental Health: 25 February 2017

Focus on preventing illness rather than incurring the expense of treatment....

Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng

In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green be...