Underground Acid Lake Threatens Johannesburg

City needs millions to pump toxic water from mines
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2010 11:14 AM CDT
A view of the Johannesburg Skyline, South Africa, Oct. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

(Newser) – Johannesburg is frantically attempting to procure millions of dollars for a new pumping station, before a rising tide of toxic mine water seeps into the city’s streets. Abandoned mine shafts in and around the city have filled up with ground water, which oxidizes with the metals within the mines, the Daily Telegraph explains. As it rises, the water, which has the same acidity as vinegar, could lead to earth tremors and power outages, and cause cancer in city residents.

At its current rate of ascent—up to 3 feet a day—it'll take the water 18 months to reach the surface. Building a pumping station would take about 13 months, so the city needs funding ASAP. It’s currently negotiating with the mining companies that originally dug the mines, hoping to wring some money from them, while pitching other investors on the profit potential of the new water source.

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