Jo'burg water safe after contamination scare

After a contamination scare on Friday morning, residents of northern Johannesburg can now safely drink their tap water again, Johannesburg Water said.

“Johannesburg Water wishes to reassure the residents living in our area of supply of Northcliff, Fairlands, Cresta, Linden, Blairgowrie and surrounding areas that their water is now safe to consume without boiling,” it said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

During routine water testing, a “possible compromise” of the quality of drinking water in the abovementioned areas had been detected, leading to an earlier warning to residents to boil tap water before consumption.

However, “Additional tests were conducted and JW can now confirm that the water being supplied is safe for consumption and use,” the water utility said.

“It is through this robust water-quality programme that JW can detect any possible contamination and take necessary actions, if required, to eliminate any negative impact on consumers,” said Gerald Dumas, MD of Johannesburg Water.

The utility’s officials routinely monitor more than 500 samples of drinking water each month.

“Public safety is our main concern and it is our responsibility as a service provider to ensure that our customers are protected at all times,” Dumas concluded.

Contamination

Two cholera cases were confirmed in Soweto last week. Johannesburg Water, however, on Thursday said water in Kliptown in Soweto was safe to drink after tests found no indication of cholera after the two cases were reported.

The Democratic Alliance has criticised Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks, accusing her of “denialism” when she said South Africa was not facing a water crisis.

Early last month, responding to a Sunday newspaper report, Hendricks sought to assure the public there was no water-contamination crisis.

“The ... [newspaper report] presents a gloomy picture of the state of water in South Africa and says that we are facing a water crisis similar to that of electricity. Fortunately we are not,” she said at the time.

Last year, failure by authorities to properly treat drinking water supplied to residents of Delmas may have triggered a mass outbreak of diarrhoea in the Mpumalanga town.

Tests by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry have shown “insufficient levels” of chlorine were added to the Delmas water supply between September 11 and October 14. This resulted in a “pulse” of contaminated water—with not enough chlorine in it to kill harmful organisms—being piped to residents.—Sapa

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