According to the National Water Resource Strategy-2 (NWRS-2) 12 out of the 19 water management areas require intervention. By 2025 all four international river basins will transition into Absolute Water Scarcity with resultant economic stagnation and potential social decay (without taking into account global climate change). To exemplify:
The Limpopo River Basin, already over-allocated by about 120%, is facing a 241% increase in demand by 2025.
The Vaal River System supply water to 60% of the economy and 45% of the population and to ensure that sufficient water of good quality is available to supply the future requirements of the Vaal River System the re-use of treated mine water by 2014/2015 is required.
If AMD is not treated to a level where the salt load is removed, the Upper Vaal will go into deficit and if there is a drought, long overdue, either:
Restrictions will be placed on consumers in the Upper Vaal; or
The dilution standard at Vaal Barrage will be relaxed resulting in very poor quality water reaching the consumers in the Middle and Lower Vaal (KOSH area, Free State Goldmines and all the mining activity in the Northern Cape on the Vaal Gamagara Scheme)
With the Upper Vaal in deficit there would then be no possibility of transferring water into the Olifants catchment (currently possible through the VRESS) and economic- including mining activities in 6 provinces could be affected if water consumption is curtailed. The mining industry is already being constrained by shortages of water on the Eastern and Western Limbs of the Bushveld. The question needs to be asked – is it prepared to risk seriously curtailed production in the event of a drought by letting the Upper Vaal go into deficit?
Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) | Non-profit Organisation Registration Number: 062-986-NPO | PBO File No 930 039 506