Activists don't trust minister on safety of water
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment is sceptical about the safety of tap water in Carolina, Mpumalanga, despite Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa's reassurances yesterday that it was safe to drink.
Molewa said her department yesterday morning received audited sample results confirming that the drinking water in Carolina now complied with national standards, adding she would drink the water herself.
Molewa was speaking shortly after the Pretoria High Court ordered the Gert Sibande district municipality to provide a temporary supply of potable water to the residents of Silobela, Caropark and Carolina within 72 hours.
The federation said it would have to see the results of the tests to be sure of t he water's safety.
"I will not drink the water. Only on Thursday last week the results showed the water was not safe but a few days later it is safe to drink," said the federation's Koos Pretorius.
"There's a lot of pressure to please the minister. I don't know how many tests were conducted, so I would wait until I see the results myself."
The community had been without drinking water since January.
The supply was contaminated by acid mine water to the extent that it was not fit for consumption.
The community has since been supplied with water tanks.
Last month, residents took the municipality to court, claiming the water supply was insufficient and that some of them had to walk long distances to fetch it.
Judge Moses Mavundla yesterday also ordered the acting mayor and municipal manager to report to the court within a month on the measures they would take to ensure that potable water was supplied.
Naseema Fakir, a Legal Resources Centre lawyer, said the centre would continue to monitor developments in Carolina to ensure that the community had access to drinking water.
"The fact that the minister said the tap water was now safe to drink was not the end of the matter. She did not mention the water quality.
"There is low capacity at the [water treatment] plant.
"We still want to know who is getting water, how much and when. We still want to know about the long-term plan," she said.
Molewa said her department had spent more than R5-million on dealing with the problem of drinking water in Carolina since it discovered that the water supply had been contaminated.