Deterioration in drinking water in South Africa – 90 municipalities ordered to address water challenges

  • The 2023 Blue Drop Watch Report has revealed that there has been a deterioration in drinking water quality since the last blue drop report was done. 
  • The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has issued non-compliance notices to 90 municipalities instructing them to correct the shortcomings identified in the Green Drop Report. 
  • The Green Drop Watch Report indicates that 50% of municipalities, whose waste water treatment systems were found to be in a critical state in the 2022 Green Drop Report, have failed to develop and implement plans to improve them.

This was heard during the release of the Green, Blue and No Drop Watch Reports on Tuesday.

Presenting the 2023 Blue Drop Watch report, Water and Sanitation Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, noted that in the 2012 Blue Drop Report, only 10% of municipalities had bad or poor microbiological water quality, as opposed to 50% in this sample.

“This indicates that there has been a deterioration in drinking water quality since the last report was done,” Phillips said.

Related news: The Department of Health recently announced that the number of deaths related to the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, has soared to 20. Read more

The Blue Drop Watch Report indicated that the drinking water produced from some municipal water treatment systems during the 2021/22 municipal financial year did not meet the South African National Standard (SANS) 241 standard and could on occasion have posed a potential health risk.

Phillips emphasised that in terms of SANS 241 and the norms and standards issued by the department, under the Water Services Act, when tests carried out by a municipality indicate that the water supplied poses a health risk, the municipality must inform its consumers that the quality of the water that it supplies poses a health risk.

He said the department has sent directives to the municipalities identified in the watch report as having systems with poor or bad compliance to inform their residents should they still have poor or bad compliance.

“The public can safely consume water from their taps if their municipalities indicate that the water being provided is being tested and meets the requirements of SANS 241.

“Water Services Authorities (WSA) are responsible by law to inform affected constituencies as soon as there is any change in quality,” Phillips said.

Link to the full report HERE 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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