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Overview of the influences of mining-related pollution on the water quality of the Mooi River system’s reservoirs, using basic statistical analyses and self organised mapping

S Barnard, A Venter, CE van Ginkel


The Mooi River catchment, in particular the Wonderfonteinspruit (WFS), has been the subject of a large number of studies regarding significant pollution sources, generally attributed to mining in the area. However, very little is known about the hydrochemistry of the surface water of the Klerkskraal, Boskop and Potchefstroom Dams in the Mooi River catchment. The aim of this study was to identify any hydro-chemical changes that occurred in the water quality of Klerkskraal, Boskop and Potchefstroom Dams during the period 1995 to 2010. Self-organised mapping (SOM) of the data emphasized the influence of mining-related effluents on the quality of the freshwater resources of the Boskop Dam and Potchefstroom Damrelative to Klerkskraal Dam which is located upstream of mining-related influences and which could therefore serve as a reference site. High concentrations of SO4 together with high electrical conductivity (EC) and total dissolved solids (TDS) values were evident in these dams as compared to Klerkskraal Dam. Concentrations of nutrients such as PO4, NH4 and NO3+NO2 were however low in all three reservoirs. In Klerkskraal Dam, which is situated above the confluence of the WFS, a strong direct relationship between EC and total alkalinity (TAL) was exhibited. This suggests that Klerkskraal Dam is still a water source displaying natural unpolluted conditions, where increases in EC, TDS and TAL can be explained by natural dissolution of the bedrock. Boskop Dam presents a dam impacted by pollutants with no direct correlation between EC and TAL. During the current study both SO4 concentrations as well as Na+ concentrations exhibited a decline from 1995 until 2010 in Boskop Dam. This suggests that, although Boskop Dam still carries the burden of mining pollution via the WFS, the pollution levels of the freshwater of Boskop Dam have decreased between 1995 and 2010.

Keywords: self-organised mapping, water quality, electrical conductivity, alkalinity, sulphates, Boskop Dam, Potchefstroom Dam, Klerkskraal Dam, Wonderfonteinspruit
AJOL African Journals Online