Acid mine drainage. Picture: ANTHONY TURTON
Acid mine drainage. Picture: ANTHONY TURTON

A third high-density sludge treatment plant in Gauteng is one of a number of ways the government hopes to bolster the water supply in the province.

This is according to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who commissioned the Eastern Basin Acid Mine Drainage Treatment plant in Springs on Friday.

Two other plants‚ the Western Basin in Krugersdorp and the Central Basin in Germiston‚ have been operational for a few years.

The Eastern Basin is the largest of the three and the largest of its kind in the world‚ Mokonyane said.

The plants are part of the government’s plan to stop polluted mine water from reaching a certain level below the surface‚ which affects the country’s water sources.

The polluted water is extracted from the mine void in the region and sent to the three treatment plants. Once the water has been treated, it is released into nearby water sources‚ such as wetlands‚ streams and dams.

"The problem of acid mine drainage has persisted for centuries and we have taken steps to address the challenge‚" Mokonyane said

The Krugersdorp plant is able to treat 50 megalitres a day‚ Central can treat 82 megalitres a day and Springs can treat 110 megalitres a day.

The treated water in Springs is transferred to Bleskopsruit wetland‚ a subcatchment of the Vaal River catchment.

Mokonyane said the Central Basin was treating enough drainage a day to lower the water level, to protect the underground water resources.

She said these solutions cost the country an estimated R10bn to R12bn.

The drought has made the country’s water insecurity apparent. Even without a drought‚ SA is a semi-arid country.

"These interventions on [acid mine drainage] and the construction of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project‚ as well as the pursuance of a diversified water mix‚ drawing increasingly from underground water resources‚ we are decisively intervening to secure the water future of this part of the country for the next 30 years‚" Mokonyane said.

TMG Digital

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