Coalification of Water

This year’s World Water Day marks the launch of the 5th United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) on the theme of water and energy. Coal remains a top energy producer world-wide. Its connection to water is a parasitic one. It drains our precious water supplies and spits back polluted skies, lakes, streams and rivers, both in its processing and production. The following pictures are a journey through the lives of people (their homes and their lands) who have been directly affected by coal power production. These are people and places which already suffer from water-scarcity but now see their livelihoods and health hung in the balance of an outmoded means of energy production.

A worker at the MNS Informal Settlement coal washing station in Mpumalanga, Emalahleni, South Africa, stands alongside water that has already being used. Water pollution from coal is a serious problem in South Africa and deepening a water scarcity crisis. A million households currently live without access to the minimum 25 liters of water per person per day; a further 2 million people’s water supply is below basic service standard. This has in turn threatened social stability - the number of service delivery protests driven by water scarcity has increased sharply in recent years.

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