Tap water in major SA metro fails drinking test

20 April 2016 - 15:10 By TMG Digital

Seven municipalities in South Africa failed the quality standards for drinking water in tests conducted this year. The good news for residents is that five of the seven offending municipalities acted quickly to clean up their drinking water‚ once alerted to the problem.The Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality was a prime culprit‚ serving up poor quality H2O to residents in Pretoria West – a residential area close to a university and Pilditch Stadium‚ known for staging track and field sport events.Tshwane also delivered sub-standard tap water to the community of Rayton‚ which markets itself as a conference and wedding destination‚ tourism town with historic landmarks and for outdoors activities like fishing.The water and sewage quality was tested by civil rights organisation AfriForum‚ in 132 South African towns.Seven of SA’s municipalities did not meet the quality standards for drinking water in 2016‚ a slight decline from the previous year‚ said Marcus Pawson‚ AfriForum’s Head of Local Government.“The 2014 results showed that the drinking water systems of 11 towns did not meet the standards. This figure decreased to five towns in 2015. This year‚ however‚ the figure again increased to seven towns out of 132‚” Pawson said.The municipalities that did not meet the standards are:- Pretoria West‚ Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. PROBLEM: High concentration of phenol and chromium. - Rayton‚ Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. PROBLEM: E. coli. - Schweizer-Reneke‚ Naledi Local Municipality. PROBLEM: Nitrate higher than allowable level - Stella‚ Naledi Local Municipality. PROBLEM: Nitrates above allowable limit. - Witbank‚ Emalahleni Local Municipality. PROBLEM: E. coli and faecal coliforms. - Belfast‚ Emakhazeni Local Municipality. PROBLEM: E. coli and faecal coliforms. - Piet Retief‚ Mkhondo Local Municipality. PROBLEM: E. coli and faecal coliforms.AfriForum said its branches warned members of these communities not to drink the water‚ while the affected municipalities received notice to rectify the quality of their water.“Follow-up monsters indicated that municipalities in Pretoria West‚ Stella‚ Rayton‚ Witbank and Schweizer-Reneke complied with AfriForum’s request and that the water is now clear‚” Pawson said.“Although AfriForum communicated the non-compliance of water quality standards to the municipalities of Belfast and Piet Retief‚ these municipalities did not resolve the crisis.”Follow-up action would be taken against the two non-complying municipalities‚ he added.For its Green Drop report‚ AfriForum also tested sewage systems in 72 towns across South Africa. Twenty-seven of these systems did not meet the quality standards.“The 27 sewage treatment plants that did not meet the standards may be seen as a threat to human health‚ food security and the environment. The standard of sewage systems should be treated as priority in 2016 in light of the dry conditions in South Africa‚” said Pawson.South Africa’s national water quality standards allow for 1‚000 units E. coli per 100ml water in treated sewage. The Tshwane Metro was again amongst the municipalities that did not meet these standards. Several places in Mpumalanga and the Ekurhuleni Metro were also cited‚ as well as towns scattered across the other provinces.

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