DA raises concerns over quality of SA's water

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says there is mounting public concern over the quality of tap water in South Africa, and has called on the Department of Water Affairs to make available drinking water-quality reports.

“The DA has ... submitted an application in terms of the Protection of Access to Information Act to obtain access to the monthly water-quality summary reports published by [the department] on the Water Quality Management System website,” DA parliamentary leader Sandra Botha said in a statement.

The party has done this “in light of the escalation of public concern over the quality of drinking water that is being delivered by the government”.

Botha cited the deaths of 140 infants earlier this year in the Ukhahlamba district of the Eastern Cape, “ostensibly as a result of contaminated tap water, coupled with a lack of access to proper treatment for basic ailments such as diarrhoea”, as among reasons for the rising concern.

Further, 43 out of 83 towns in the Free State have at one point or another received “code red” water warnings, according to available water-quality summary reports.

“Many water boards deliver water to the South African public that contravenes safety standards and contains dangerously high levels of bacteria—Amatola and Bushbuckridge are of particular concern in this regard.”

Botha said the least the government can do is ensure the public has ready access to all updated reports on drinking water quality as they become available, so people can keep themselves informed.

This would also allow the non-profit sector to “step in to alert the public to danger in instances where drinking water quality has become seriously compromised,” she said.

The Water Quality Management System website allows access to reports to those who have been issued a username and password.

The DA applied in writing to the department on April 1 this year, requesting a username and password that would allow them to access the water quality reports. To date, it has received no response from the department.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, the department said it would respond “in due course”.

“We are aware of the letter, and the minister [Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks] will respond to Sandra Botha in due course,” department spokesperson Themba Khumalo said.—Sapa


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