19 October 2012 – Greenpeace views what it sees as power utility Eskom’s coal expansion trend as a major threat to South Africa’s already stressed water resources. Melita Steele, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, says, "Eskom uses just over 10,000 litres of water a second, the same amount a single person would use within one year. The utility’s reckless investment in new coal-fired power stations clearly puts South Africa’s scarce water supplies at risk."
The environmental lobby group recently released a report called ‘Water hungry coal: Burning South Africa’s water to produce electricity’which suggests that the South African government and Eskom are making an energy choice at the moment in favour of coal expansion at the expense of scarce water resources.
It says that of the 22 mines that supply Eskom with coal, half were operating without a valid water licence in 2010. "South Africans have a right to know how water is being allocated, managed, and polluted. The current allocation of water to the coal mining industry and Eskom for coal-fired electricity is not transparent, accountable, or sustainable," Steele says.
"It is time to end the era of coal in South Africa through a just transition away from coal towards renewable energy. Our ability to deal with a changing climate and future water crisis depends on it. The South African government and Eskom must realise that there are very effective substitutes for coal, but there are no alternatives to water."