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AMD: Will the penny finally drop when Johannesburg’s Gold Reef City is flooded?

The trade union UASA is most dissatisfied and somewhat irritated by the fact that next to nothing has been done as such to stop the soon expected decanting of acid mine water in central Johannesburg, and particularly Gold Reef City.

Since March 2010 it has taken UASA three well-publicised, high-level seminars, an authoritative impact study, numerous meetings and a Section 77 application at Nedlac to bring home the message that South Africa is facing a gigantic water crisis.

UASA’s water security crusade, labelled H2O 4 Life, was aimed at awakening government, organised business and other stakeholders to the harsh reality that acid mine drainage (AMD) and the dumping of sewage and industrial pollutants into our precious and meagre sources of fresh water are threatening the entire country in a wide variety of fields.

The shock expressed by Members of Parliament’s water affairs and environment committee yesterday when they were informed that water pumping in the Witwatersrand basin will not start before another year has gone, only proves how uninformed government is about the matter and how little understood the country’s AMD crisis really is.

 

Mr. Marius Keet, senior manager: water affairs of the Department Water Affairs and Environment, yesterday made it clear that tenders should be accepted within the next month to prevent Gold Reef City from flooding.

Instead of taking immediate action when the threat was pointed out, an unwarranted dragging of feet on the side of Government became apparent. It became clear that Government did not realise the urgency of the matter whatsoever.

Mr. Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency, went as far as to warn the nation in a statement that we should not become panicky and that it is not a matter of people “needing gumboots to walk in the streets of Johannesburg tomorrow”.

Are Manuel and others in Government prepared to take full responsibility when acid mine water starts decanting in our busiest city in the foreseeable future, or will we just keep on doing what only we can do best: talk about talks?

UASA demands that Government informs itself about the situation and takes immediate action, before disaster strikes. We need a comprehensive solution and definite steps to ward off the threat now.