Water News

Residents left in the dark over AMD treatment

Written by  Sheree Bega Monday, 13 February 2017 09:54
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has been accused of “authorising pollution”, after its water quality tests for its acid mine drainage (AMD) plants in the Witwatersrand surpassed the government’s own water resource quality objectives.

“The graphs reveal the manganese, the sulphate and the electrical conductivity for the Central and Eastern Basins treated AMD significantly exceeds the legally binding water resource quality standards and resource quality objectives for the Upper Vaal”, explains Mariette Liefferink, chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE).  “The same is true (for) the discharges of the treated AMD into the Tweelopiespruit, which is part of the Crocodile West Water Management Area.”

AMD refers to the flow, or seepage, of polluted water from old mining areas.  The FSE had launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, together with the Centre for Environmental Rights, to obtain the results of the water quality monitoring of neutralised AMD discharged from the Eastern, Central and Western Basins AMD treatment plants in the Blesbokspruit, Elsburgspruit, a tributary to the Klip River, and the Tweelopiespruit, on the West Rand.

“The numerical limits for manganese, sulphate and electrical conductivity are non-compliant with the water resource quality for the Vaal and Crocodile west/Limpopo water management areas.  Concisely stated, the DWS has authorised pollution”, says Liefferink.

In its response to Liefferink, the DWS stresses that “due to technical, operational limitations and financial constraints the determinants are limited to the key parameters indicative of AMD” and it only measures electrical conductivity, manganese, iron and pH.  But AMD, says Liefferink, contains a broad spectrum of heavy metals in elevated concentrations such as lead cobalt, the metalloid arsenic, long-living cyanide complexes, cobalt, nickel and uranium.

Next week, the DWS and the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority will officially launch the Eastern Basin’s AMD plant, one of the largest high-density sludge plants in the world, with a maximum treatment capacity of 110 million litres a day.  It has been in operation since August.

“The neutralised AMD that is discharged into the Blesbokspruit, which hosts the Marievale Bird Sanctuary, contains highlevels of sulphate.  This is between 1 300mg to 1 460[mg/l.  The water resource quality objectives for the Vaal are 600mg/l for sulphate. The water also contains elevated levels of sulphate and electrical conductivity]” says Liefferink.

In 2014, the location of the sludge facility for the plant was the subject of a petition over fears of water contamination and blasting.  “The sludge from the Eastern Basin is disposed into the Grootvlei Shaft 3.  No environmental impact assessment was conducted to determine the impacts.  The sludge contains toxic and radioactive metals.  The impacts of the sludge on downstream water users, the groundwater and the ecology have not been assessed”, Liefferink says.

But the DWS says an environmental authorisation for the interim trail deposition of sludge from the Eastern Basin AMD plant into the Grootvlei 3 shaft was not required.  “Prior to commissioning, the proposed interim trial deposition of sludge into the shaft was presented to the authorities (with) no requirement for environmental authorisation.”

Philip de Jager, a trustee of the Grootvaly Blesbokspruit Conservation Trust, and who represents residents who raised concerns over the sludge disposal, has no knowledge of the opening next week.  “But this does not surprise me as input by the locals is usually ignored,” he says.

 

 (Please note:  The typographical errors are the FSE’s and not the Saturday Star’s.)

MINING

Palmietkuilen Coal Mining Project Rejected

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) has refused to grant permission for the proposed Palmietkuilen Coal Mining Project.  The FSE with other interested and affected parties lodged an objection with the Department of Mineral Resources against the proposed open cast coal mine to be situated on the Palmietkuilen farm in Lesedi.

turn mine enviro hazards into jobs generator

http://www.miningweekly.com/article/booklet-outlines-guide-to-turning-mine-env...

It’s all about the money

The hazardous mining by-product raises two questions – who’s to blame and who sh...

SA NEWS

THE SAWC’S STATE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND SANITATION REPORT

THE FSE CONDUCTED A NUMBER OF NEWS MEDIA INTERVIEWS ON THE SAWC’S STATE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND SANITATION REPORT INTER ALIA SABC NEWS, IOL, CHANNEL AFRICA AND E.TV.  

DAILY NEWS 30 November 2017

  Lack of skills to manage water supply systems A DAMNING report published by the South African Water Caucus has revealed that the quality of the water drunk by South Africans has severely deteriorated and is now a cause for concern.

Damning new report reveals DWS in crisis, SA water security under threat

The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) today launched a report which exposes the dysfunction and institutional paralysis in the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The report is almost entirely based on publicly accessible information including Parliamentary Questions and Answers, Portfolio Committee meeting reports, information from access to information (PAIA) requests and media articles. However, importantly, it presents it in a single document which paints a particularly bleak picture for SA’s water institutions and hence water security.

R10 BILLION OWED FOR WATER – CUTS LOOMING

MEDIA STATEMENT   R10 BILLION OWED FOR WATER – CUTS LOOMING 22 November 2017   The Department of Water and Sanitation is issuing notices to at least 30 municipalities that its water supplies will be cut off, by Friday, 08 December 2017; should they fail to pay their water debt that has been outstanding for more than 60 days.

WATER

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that has been resisting the proposed coal mine inside a protected area and strategic water source area in Mpumalanga launched further proceedings in the Pretoria High Court.

Project to heal polluted river . System will·create stream·of jobs

THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a "dead river syste...

'Mine Water can be treated, safe'

SOUTH Africans have to "change their mindsets" that they can't drink acid mine d...