Government plan to pump acid mine drainage into the Vaal River
The proposed solution on acid mine drainage might have negative impact on the Vaal River and the community and their livelihood. three days ago the Department of water affairs, took a decision to pump partially desalinated water into the Vaal River. There is been concern from civil society organisations that the dilution is not a long term solution to resolve acid mine drainage (AMD).
Minister has declared the immediate and short term interventions of the Witwatersrand AMD mitigation project as an emergency government waterworks in terms of Section 110 of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998). An immediate intervention to neutralise acid water already decanting from the Western Basin, a short term intervention, pumping water from the Western, Central and Eastern Basins to prevent surface decant and to neutralise this water before release into the Vaal river.
The water from Lesotho highlands project will be used to dilute AMD in the Vaal River, Vaal River is already polluted by mines, and untreated sewage is having a problem of salinity, with additions to the AMD Pollutions from Witwatersrand these will be a genocide. Fitness for use of Vaal River water; its been prolonged , the removal of mine water induced salt-loading may start in 2015 mean while what will be happening to the community that uses the water for Vaal river. To the users Of the Vaal River, this will threaten their food security and the aquatic life.
The Depatment of Water Affairs have ignore the concerns of civil society around the technology choice. The Minister declared the AMD as an emergency – no consultation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required for the first 2 years, meaning the plan had been approved without the checking the impact that will be on the Vaal river. The process was to fast tracked EIA to consolidated into the feasibility study. The feasibility study is a planning study and does not include a public participation process. Only once feasible options have been recommended and agreed upon the EIA process may commence. It is during this EIA process that all interested and affected parties will have an opportunity to register as stakeholders, participate and comment.
The big concern is that there will be no rehabilitation of the other side that are already been contaminated. The focuse will be to protect Gold Reef City Museum from decanting because its a national assets and contribute the economy of the country.
The community living around the Vaal river should be included in the process because they will be affected by the project, the process shouldn’t be held somewhere in Krugersdorp. It should be held where directly affected parties are.
EIA-Environmental Impact Asessment
AMD-Acid Mine Drainage
NEMA-National Environment Management Act
DEA-Department of Environmental Affairs