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MEDIA RELEASE: POLLUTION INCIDENT AT THE WILGE RIVER, OLIFANTS RIVER AND LOSKOP DAM

25 February 2022: The team of scientists from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) recently discovered that in the upper reaches of the Wilge River an acidic water spill occurred at a mine that had dams to hold this water. The acidic water flowed downstream along the Wilge River, which joins up with the Olifants River and into Loskop Dam. Approximately 58 km of the river was affected by this pollution.

The impact of the pollution in the river was significant and fish mortalities were observed along the rivers and at the inlet of Loskop Dam. The impact of the pollution in Loskop Dam extended only approximately 1,7 km into the dam. Fortunately, the dam level is at 100% and the dilution effect once the pollution plume reached the dam was effective in limiting the spread.

As a mitigation measure, water was released from the Bronkhorstspruit and Witbank dams to flush the remaining acidic water from the rivers. No new fish mortalities were observed since the release of water from the dams.

At Loskop Dam, all the dead fish at the inlet were removed from the water and buried. An estimated three tons of dead fish were removed from the dam, and it included all of the 23 indigenous fish species in Loskop Dam.

We would like to assure the public that the area of the dam that is available to the public was not affected by this pollution incident, as the pollution plume never came within 1 km of the upper cable.

We have noted a number of images on social media showing green water at the inlet of Loskop Dam, which resulted in media reports speculating that the area is contaminated. The images were actually showing natural algae blooms that are usually quite visible during summer and late summer.

Our team of scientists continue to monitor the bank and at this stage, it shows a healthy presence of aquatic life including schools of vulnerable young fish at several locations. The water in the dam has not been affected by the pollution and the water is safe for fishing.

We would like to invite tourists and members of the public to visit Loskop Dam and enjoy some fishing and a relaxing time in the area. We look forward to welcoming you all to this area for a memorable experience in Mpumalanga.

  • Issued by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

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