Jo’burg, Cape Town are leaders in water quality

A government report detailing the performance of the country’s drinking water quality management, has found that the City of Johannesburg and the City of Cape Town have some of the best drinking water in the country.

Known as the Blue Drop, the department of water and environmental affairs assessment programme is aimed at testing the quality of drinking water provided by South African municipalities and water authorities.

Only municipalities that scored 95% and more obtained the Blue Drop status. The assessors checked if the authorities were microbiological or chemical compliant.

The top ten performers were eThekwini Municipality, City of Johannesburg, City of Cape Town, Bitou municipality, Ekurhuleni, City of Tshwane and Mogale City, Kgatelopele, George and Dr J.S Moroka local municipality.

However, nine municipal water authorities have snubbed government’s water quality assessment programme. Another concern is that of 787 municipal water authorities assessed, only 38 obtained the Blue Drop for 2010.

Deputy Water Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi was quick to point out that the quality of water and water authorities that failed to obtain the Blue Drop status was not necessarily poor or unsafe to drink.

‘Tap water must be safe’
In the 269-page report, the assessors said it was unfortunate that nine were found to portray a disregard for drinking water quality management when they chose not to adhere to the call to be assessed.

Addressing the media before the report was made public, Mabudafhasi said her department would pay attention to the municipalities which were not assessed, saying that it was paramount that tap water was safe.

Among bad performers were uMkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu Natal which scored 16% for the water quality in the Manguzi area in northern Zululand.

The Ventersdorp municipality obtained 18%.

The municipalities which snubbed the Blue Drop assessment were Breede Rivier (Western Cape), Delmas (Mpumalanga), Dipaleseng (Mpumalanga), Metsimaholo (Free State), Moqhaka (Free State), Moretele (North West), Musukaligwa (Mpumalanga) and Pixley ka Seme (Mpumalanga).

The Blue Drop report was released during the Water Institute of South Africa conferenc conference at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on Monday.

An indication of progress
Mabudafhasi said the report indicated a general trend of improvement in the management of drinking water quality.

“Seven hundred and eighty seven municipal water systems were assessed.

“Only 440 were assessed in 2009. This is an indicator of progress,” she said.

Speaking during the opening of the conference, Mabudafhasi urged water authorities to manage their costs efficiently so they can cope with the effects of Eskom’s recent tariff hike.

“With Eskom’s huge tariff increase, the water sector must manage costs and cost recovery more efficiently to continue with the delivery of affordable and sustainable water services,” she said.

“Water comes at a cost and we have to manage our finances effectively to sustain service delivery,” she said.

Her department was working on a comprehensive review of the pricing strategy and the funding model which, she said, would address the issue of tariffs, cost management and cost recovery issues.

The government was concerned about the quality of water resources and their impact on the environment, the quality of life and the economy, said Mabudafhasi.

It was also important for South Africans to apply water use efficiently and water demand management at all levels, she said. — Sapa

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