Gauteng Environment MEC washes hands of Acid Mine Drainage issue

Jahno Engelbrecht MPL

DA Spokesperson on Environment in Gauteng

This week, Gauteng MEC for Environment, Faith Mazibuko, washed her hands of the Acid Mine Drainage issue in the province.

During a committee meeting this week, the MEC claimed that this issue is solely a national competency. While legislation may support this, the MEC cannot simply turn her back on an increasingly dangerous environmental situation directly impacting this province.

The MEC even went so far as to claim that Acid Mine Water could be safe to drink despite any clear evidence to support this.

The fact remains that current processes to treat Acid Mine Water are not working sufficiently. Lime-dosing the water removes heavy metals but what remains is heavily salinized. Without a proper de-salinization process this water is then emptied into fresh water river systems in Gauteng.

According the World Health Organization, these salt levels should not exceed the recommended level of 200 mg per litre.  Lime-dosing Acid Mine Water currently leaves the water with a salt level of 2500 mg per litre.

The health and environmental implications of this contamination are likely to be far-reaching and will impact irrigation, drinking water, river systems and aquatic life.

The MEC should set up an urgent meeting with the relevant national departments to discuss the way forward instead of turning her back on this issue. She should also refrain from radical claims regarding the safety of this water before proper studies have been conducted and the core of this problem has been resolved.