A fish kill at a lodge on the River Wilge was reported to the Bronkhorstspruit Catchment Forum on Wednesday, February 16.
The Wilge River catchment area begins in the local municipality of Victor Khanye (Delmas area) and continues its journey through the catchment area to Loskop Dam and beyond.
The river passes through Gauteng and Mpumalanga and through various local authorities.
The river was reportedly different colors in different locations, Ridge Times reports.
At the lodge the color was described as yellowish and other residents downstream said it was a bluish color.
That afternoon, some residents used a helicopter to view the various inlets of the Wilge River to determine if the source of the problem could be identified from the air.
“The helicopter flight revealed what could be assumed to be a pollution point that lay in the Kromdraaispruit leading to the Saalboomspruit and Wilge Rivers,” said Cara Stokes, chairman of the Bronkhorstspruit Catchment Forum.
In addition to reporting the incident to the Minerals, Water and Environment Departments (three departments), the River Basin Forum, headed by Dr. Dabrowski, an aquatic scientist, sent fish samples to the pathology laboratory in Onderstepoort and water samples from several to an accredited laboratory to determine the confirm and characterize the source of contamination.
The full set of results was not available at the time of publication.
However, preliminary results showed that the pH of the water in the Wilge River at the fish kill site was 4.0, along with a low oxygen content of 45%.
“This is a strong indicator that a significant volume of acid mine runoff related to mining was the problem,” Stokes said.
dr. Dabrowski, General Manager of Confluent Environmental, has been appointed by a stakeholder to analyze the various results and conduct an independent investigation into the matter.
The mine has reached out to some community members to initiate the public participation process for the concerned stakeholders.
“Authorities are working on the case, but formal feedback is awaited on the nature of the incident, the rehabilitation measure and what can be done to prevent it from happening again,” Stokes said.