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Coal mine plans to get wetland flowing again

S Lorentz, A Owens
Saturday, February 1, 2020
First presented: 
Water & Sanitation Africa
Water Management

Restoring a wetland on the property of a Free State colliery holds the promise of benefiting not just the mine but the broader environment, including biodiversity and surface water resources in the area.

According to Dr Simon Lorenz, principal hydrologist, SRK Consulting, the mine requested advise on remediating a wetland that had dried out - mainly due to a large trench previously exvacated through the wetland.

"Once you dig a ditch in a wetland, the water drains into that space and quickly flows away. This drops the wetland's water table and the ground dries out" explains Lorentz.

He noted that wetlands are very sensitive to water levels, requiring that water percolates right through to the surface level. Without sufficient moisture in the peat soil of this wetland area, the ground has begun to burn frequently. While this is possibly due to the veld fires in the area, the ground may also spontaneously combust due to its high content of hydrocarbons. Besides rehabilitation of flow pathways within the wetland, the proposed solution will include controlled and monitored discharges from the mine into the area that was previously a wetland, thereby contributing to the rehydration of the soil.

Authors: Simon Lorentz (Corporate Consultant | Principal Hydrologist) | Avril Owens (Principal Scientist)

Feature Author

Simon Lorentz


  • Catchment hydrology, vadose zone hydrology, water quality hydrology.


Simon has been involved in the field of hydrology for the past 30 years. His expertise includes:

  • Hydrological processes;
  • Particularly vadose zone water and solute movement;
  • Water quality hydrology;
  • Examination of PhD and MSc theses, review of International Journal papers and professional report reviews.


Corporate Consultant | Principal Hydrologist
SRK Pietermaritzburg
SRK Africa