Johannesburg: Our water is safe

Overseas visitors to Johannesburg can drink the city’s water without fear because it is clean and safe, Johannesburg Water said on Thursday.

“We can say that residents and visitors to the city of Johannesburg needn’t fear about the quality of water supply to city,” the utility’s laboratory support manager, Russel Rimmer, said.

Speaking at a briefing on the R3,1-billion programme of improvements and replacements within the city’s 10 000km water-mains network, he said Johannesburg Water conducts more than the legally required number of sample tests on supplies it receives from Rand Water, and is confident that the city’s supplies are safe.

“We do over 40 tests on the samples to be 100% sure of the water quality,” he said.

Complaints to the company are generally about the colour of the water, which could indicate that chlorine levels need to be adjusted, or cloudiness, which usually means there has been work on a nearby pipeline.

Claims of illness due to the water are investigated and, said Rimmer, Johannesburg Water had found that such reports of illness had not been related to the water quality. If this was the case, an entire area would have been affected, not just the individual who asked the company to investigate.

Managing director Gerald Dumas said that it is common in Europe to see signs indicating when it is not safe to drink the tap water, but this is not an issue within Johannesburg Water’s networks, which covers areas from Orange Farm to Midrand, and Roodepoort to Alexandra, and supplies about 3,8-million people.

“Sometimes we are even scared to brush our teeth and we go out [in Europe] and buy a bottle of water. So, our water is safe.”

Johannesburg Water had recently won the “Blue Drop” award from the Department of Water Affairs, which said the city had the cleanest water nationally and ranked among the world’s best.

To sustain this it has been doing repairs, replacements and maintenance over the past years, and while this might frustrate consumers, he said: “You need to bear with us.
We are here to assist you and provide services.”

Many of the disruptions currently experienced are due to workers connecting new pipelines—which have been laid parallel to the old—to the network.

These connections will not be done during the Soccer World Cup to avoid disruptions to water supply, and will resume towards the end of July, explained Ntshavheni Mukwevho, general manager of capital investment and infrastructure development.

It was also replacing old asbestos cement pipelines that had been prone to leaks, which accounted for at least 10% of water losses.—Sapa

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