Cape Town residents have something else to be proud of: we drink the cleanest tap water in the country, and the city's water is rated amongst the best in the world. This is thanks to the fact that Cape Town's raw water supplies come from unpolluted sandstone catchments, and are then treated by the Bulk Water Branch of the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Tests were done on the drinking water quality of the City of Cape Town during the recent National Water Week, and the City's Sanitation Week programme. Events were held in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, where samples were taken from those areas and then tested in public to demonstrate the quality of potable (drinking) water in the city. Tap water was bottled and according to Mpharu Hloyi, manager: Scientific Services, tests showed the content of minerals in these bottles is similar to the fashionable bottled waters. "People were drinking this water like nothing else," she added.
...tested in public to demonstrate the quality of potable (drinking) water in the city
Hloyi says the city's drinking water is cleanest and safest to drink from home taps.
"A total of 166 220 physical, microbiological and chemical analyses of drinking water are tested per year from our final treatment bulk supply water and the distribution system. The treatment procedures are to ensure that the city delivers water which is free of harmful bacteria and contains balanced minerals that our body needs." She said the water treatment process, supply and testing is measured through ISO 9001/2000 and SABS inter-laboratory comparison accreditation systems, and the City has consistently come first with laboratory-performed analysis.
The City has also increased its monitoring programme to all the informal settlements to ensure that the water supplied is of good quality. Hloyi encouraged people to drink at least two litres, or eight glasses of water a day, to maintain good health and reduce the risk of disease. "The public must drink our water with confidence to increase their daily levels of energy."
"The public must drink our water with confidence to increase their daily levels of energy."
Water Week and Sanitation Week reached at least 7 000 learners, and included education programmes and visits, water testing and a water saving devices expo.
Water shortages and restrictions are still an important issue, says Sipho Mosai, director: Water and Sanitation. "The water levels are okay now, but it all depends on how we use water going forward," he added. "The dams are reducing at 1.8 percent on average, which means we will have sufficient water until the winter rainfall season. "Water restrictions will remain at Level 1, and they will only be made stricter, not reduced, he added.
Testing Cape Town's water
- The City's Water Quality value chain is measured at the Water Services Department's Scientific Services, which is situated in Athlone.
- There are 11 water treatment works
- There are 256 reservoirs and distribution points in formal and informal settlements
- Sampling is done weekly on drinking water, and raw and final water
- 166 220 physical, microbiological and chemical analyses of drinking water are tested each year
- Laboratory results are dependant on good quality samples being analysed timeously.
- Sterile sampling bottles and other equipment is vital.
- Chemical and microbiological sampling is done from the same taps, which need to be disinfected before sample is taken.
- Samples must be placed in a cooler box and delivered to the laboratory within six hours.
- The samples are then put through bacteriological and chemical analysis, in a complicated 10-step process.