Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System By Nthambeleni Gabara
Johannesburg - Acid mine drainage (AMD) is of great concern to the Gauteng Provincial Government, according to the State of Environment Report released by Gauteng Agriculture, Rural and Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on Wednesday.
"Many of the water resources within the province are clearly under stress from an increased demand for human and commercial water consumption, coupled with poor management of water quality and degradation of river and wetland ecosystem.
"In addition, acid mine drainage associated with mining activities is the greatest current concern relating to groundwater resources," said the MEC.
However, the findings of the report note that AMD can also be seen as an opportunity in the form of a valuable water resource if mitigate. It further indicated that Gauteng needed to invest in renewable energy and appropriate technologies.
The department has both immediate and long term solutions to the address the problem. Extreme progress is being made in treating the water on the Western basin and authorities will soon evaluate tenders for the central basin and work there should be getting under way soon.
Mayathula-Khoza said as with the 2004 provincial State of Environment Report, water remains a major issue for Gauteng for now and in the long term, adding that the province is still faced with a number of challenges before achieving environmental sustainability.
To be sustainable, she said, Gauteng must respond to climate change challenges, establish viable communities as well as create people-friendly urban settings.
"The relationship between people and the natural environment is important in a fast developing and highly urbanised world and Gauteng is no exception. It has been demonstrated that people become more reliant on the natural environment as poverty levels increase and that their vulnerability and lack of resilience has consequences leading to environmental degradation and increases in pollution," she said.
However, over the last five years the province had made positive progress on a number of environmental indicators.
"Most notably is the dramatic reduction in lead concentrations from vehicle emissions during to tighter fuel regulation. Another noticeable improvement is that municipal drinking water quality management has significantly improved and Gauteng is currently the top performing province in terms of its Blue Drop rating," she said.
According to the report, poor air quality remains a serious issue for the province as household fossil fuel, vehicle emissions and industrial processes cause high concentrations for air pollutants.
However, the MEC said Air Quality Management had been developed for various municipalities and monitoring provided sound scientific basis for decision making and enforcement actions.
"Air Quality Management is an extremely important issue for Gauteng to deal with as it directly impacts on human health and climate change," she said.
The report also identified that recycling and efficient water use were unavoidable and as a basic human right, it is a challenge for clean water to be provided to a populous province such as Gauteng.
The department, along with municipalities, implemented the Clean and Green Programme aimed at encouraging the municipalities to clear illegal dumping, develop communal parks in residential areas where illegal dumping is taking place.
The Clean and Green Programme launched in 2009 is a legacy project of Premier Nomvula Mokonyane aimed at ensuring that the province is clean and is beautified.
Through this programme, over 20 illegal dumping spots were rehabilitated across the province.