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Gauteng could face water crisis

Gauteng could face a water crisis if a long-term solution to acid mine drainage isn’t found.

Water generic. Picture: Free Images.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng could face a water crisis in two to three years' time if a long-term solution to acid mine drainage isn't found.

That was the message from the Department of Water and Sanitation to Members of Parliament on Wednesday.

Officials briefed the Oversight Committee on measures taken to deal with mining's toxic legacy, especially on the Witwatersrand where millions of litres of poisonous water is being pumped daily from old mines lying under Johannesburg.

The department's Marius Keet says it's not possible to continue diluting treated acid mine drainage with good quality water from the Vaal River without prejudicing Gauteng's water supply.

"It can go up to 11 cubic meters for every cubic meter of that quality of water you discharge for dilution. In other words to make it good for downstream users you need good quality water and that's seven to 11 cubic meters of quality which is very expensive, unsustainable and it's water lost from the river system."