African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Derivation of scenario-specific water quality guidelines for acid mine drainage in South Africa, using a risk-based approach

E.C. Vellemu, P.K. Mensah, N Griffin, O.N. Odume


Acid mine drainage (AMd) continues to threaten water quality in many mining regions globally. data paucity renders it challenging to inform appropriate water quality management strategies for a succinct scientific understanding of the effects of AMd on freshwater ecosystems. The current study investigated the effects of AMd collected from a defunct coalmine in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on freshwater ecosystems using a risk-based approach on five indigenous species, Adenophlebia auriculata, Burnupia stenochorias, Caridina nilotica, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata and Oreochromis mossambicus in 2016. Species responded differently to AMd after 96 hours and 240 hours of exposure in static experimental test designs. Burnupia stenochorias was more sensitive to AMd after 96 and 240 hours of exposure, whereas O. mossambicus was tolerant during short-term exposure, but became more sensitive after 240 hours of exposure than the other species tested. The availability of metals in AMd was directly associated with dilution rate. Scenario-specific water quality guidelines for AMd have been derived as 0.122% for short-term and 0.014% for long-term exposure. These may form important indicative dilutions for other AMds that do not match the scenarios of this study. The toxicity of AMd to a wide range of aquatic species, including field validations, requires further investigation.

Keywords: ecosystems, mining, pollution, salinity, species sensitivity distribution
AJOL African Journals Online