Acid mine water on Gauteng oversight

Johannesburg – Acid mine drainage on the Witwatersrand has been included in the Gauteng agriculture and rural development department’s oversight programme, the DA said on Monday.

“The inclusion… is a victory for environmental activists and multi-party democracy and will hopefully send out a message that national government is accountable to provinces for their lack of performance,” spokesperson Thomas Walters said in a statement.

The party started lobbying for the inclusion in 2009, when it became apparent that the province needed to pressurise national government to prioritise the issue.

In a report presented to Cabinet in February, a group of experts found millions of litres of rapidly rising acid mine water under Johannesburg would start flooding the lower levels of the Gold Reef City tourist mine early next year.

Shortly thereafter, this acid mine drainage, as it is known, would pass through an “environmentally critical” level – with potentially devastating consequences – before flowing onto the surface.

Last Wednesday, the DA welcomed news that the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority was going to oversee a short-term clean-up project. The authority is a state-owned organisation that funds and develops bulk raw water infrastructure.

“The DA regards the next step as securing direct feedback and input into national programmes to deal with the issue, with a multi-level, clearly-budgeted action plan to solve acid mine drainage,” Walters said.

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