Significant improvement in Hammanskraal water, but more work needed

Communities should be able to rely on the safety of their drinking water.

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27/03/2020 10:40:57

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Significant improvement in Hammanskraal water, but more work needed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA’s latest independent water quality test results show that the quality of drinking water in Hammanskraal has improved, with a clear indication of improved water treatment in most wards. We are however concerned about the high dosage of monochloramine in one of the samples taken in Ward 74 but believe that this might have been a high dosage to flush the system in order to kill bacteria.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, people need access to clean drinking water and it is clear that the City is trying to disinfect the water to kill bacteria,” says Julius Kleynhans, Operations Executive at OUTA. “We are confident that our efforts to get the City to take this problem seriously have been fruitful and that the government is playing its part for the moment. We recently engaged with the SAHRC who also indicated that they are monitoring the water quality situation in Hammanskraal.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The latest samples were taken on 10 March 2020. Ward 74 had a slightly higher than the recommended 3mg/l concentration of monochloramine at 4.48 mg/l. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA was concerned about Ward 8 as it had a high total viable count of 36 000 colony forming units per millilitre (cfu/ml) which should be less than 1000 cfu/ml. “This is an indicator of bacteria or mold in the water. Though there was no E. coli detected in any of the samples, high concentrations may result in other pathogenic micro-organisms not included in the analysis we conducted. People are urged to boil their drinking water until the City can confirm that their water is safe as one cannot take any chances at this time. An increase in chlorine dosing concentration at the final treatment step should assist in reducing the bacterial content. The monochloramine was a very low 0.12mg/l in the sample and should be pushed up to the recommended 3mg/l,” adds Kleynhans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA calls on the City of Tshwane to continue monitoring the water quality to ensure the health and safety of its residents and to give sufficient feedback to the community on the results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA has monitored the drinking water quality in Hammanskraal for almost a year. Throughout the process it engaged with the City, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Department of Water and Sanitation to protect the rights of the Hammanskraal community by ensuring that they have access to clean drinking water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last year, OUTA alerted the City to problems in samples from the Hammanskraal water supply and called for action. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The results indicated high concentrations of nitrites (NO₂) and nitrates (NO₃) which pose a chronic health risk to some babies as well as E. coli of 32 units per 100ml of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The SAHRC also raised the problems with the Hammanskraal water. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The samples were based on the assessment of variables analysed in comparison to the SANS 241-1:2015 Drinking Water Standard (SABS, 2015) and the quality of domestic water supply (WRC, 1998). The latest water sample tested was found fit for use as potable water and for domestic use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A copy of the latest test report is here. The sample was taken on 10 March and the report finalised on 24 March. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Picture: Pixabay

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