Drinking water in the Diepsloot informal settlement, north of Johannesburg, is no longer contaminated and safe to drink, the city said on Thursday.
“The quality of the water in the whole of Diepsloot has now been corrected and meets the South African National Standard (SANS) 241, and its quality is on par with the rest of Johannesburg,” said spokesperson Millicent Kabwe.
Safe water services were restored to the area on April 22.
The performing of corrective measures and testing took longer than Johannesburg Water had expected and the city apologised for the inconvenience.
The correction of the problem included flushing and related engineering and scientific processes, she said.
“Our greatest appreciation goes to the majority of the residents, dedicated staff members and all other stakeholders who were patient and supportive throughout this period.”
Diepsloot’s drinking water system was contaminated by sewage on April 12 when a contractor upgrading infrastructure accidentally damaged water pipes.
The break was quickly repaired and the water started flowing again but by that time, it seems, raw sewage had leaked into the water system — potentially carrying E coli and worse.
Tests and confusion followed. The city water agency collected two rounds of samples from various points, both of which showed the water to be drinkable but continued to advise residents not to drink tap water.
A third test showed potential contamination, although the tests apparently (and to the considerable surprise of water experts not involved in the process) did not provide details or allow the source of the contamination to be pinpointed.
Several failed attempts to flush the system resulted in water being temporarily restored to different parts of the township before being turned off again. Word spread that the water in one extension was safe to drink, but the taps remained dry because of the flushing exercise. — Sapa, staff reporter