Shock report on drinking water in SA’s towns

(Bureaucrats not being bureaucratic with themselves)

Half of the local water-service authorities in Mpumalanga believe they comply with government standards for drinking-water quality, but only a quarter of them actually monitor it, according to an unpublished report commissioned by the water affairs and forestry department.

Water-service authorities are responsible for providing safe drinking water to the country.

Officials have not ruled out contaminated water as the cause of the deadly typhoid outbreak that has rocked Delmas in Mpumalanga, claiming at least four lives.

Many other towns are struggling to maintain safe water supplies.

The small town of Chrissiesmeer was forced to cut off drinking water to 8000 inhabitants following the discovery of e.coli bacteria, which causes diarrhoea, in one of the town’s reservoirs.

Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica revealed during her budget speech that 63% of municipalities could not confirm that they met guidelines for drinking-water quality, but at the time neither she nor her officials provided further details.

Based on the self-assessed performance of SA’s 170 water-service authorities, research found 61per cent of them perceived their drinking water to be of “good” or “ideal” standard, yet only 58 per cent regularly monitored it.

Only half met the South African Bureau of Standards quality guidelines for drinking water.

  • In Eastern Cape only six out of 17 authorities said they monitored the quality of drinking water.

  • By contrast, in Free State, 20 out of 21 said they regularly tested drinking water.

    The problems were largely confined to rural areas, with Ekhurhuleni the only metropolitan area failing to make the grade.

    Weaknesses include insufficient monitoring and evaluation systems, a lack of effective water treatment and a poor management culture, the report says.

    Source:Tamar Khan Business Day 22 September 2005

    For text:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 27 September 2005,/I>
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