SA’s tap water ‘safe to drink’

3 March 2009

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has reassured South Africans that the country’s tap water is safe to drink.

While acknowledging that the water in certain areas might at times not meet the required technical standards in terms of the electronic Water Quality Management & Drinking Water Quality Regulation, the department says this does not mean the water in these towns is not safe for human consumption.

While drinking water quality management is the responsibility of South Africa’s municipalities, the department has an oversight and regulatory role on the quality of tap water, and has implemented a countrywide system to assist with the overall management of drinking water quality.

According to the department, an average 3 000 samples are taken nationwide from water supply systems, and the latest results indicate that on average 94% of the analyses complied with the health aspects of the national standard for drinking water quality.

“Our monthly reporting indicates that 98% of all samples taken comply with the health aspects as listed in of SANS 241: 2006,” the department said in a statement last week.

Incentive-based regulation

The department has already commenced with its incentive-based regulation programme, the Blue Drop Certification Programme, with the objective of awarding excellent drinking water quality management in different towns.

The general public will also be kept well informed on the regulator’s confidence levels in drinking water quality management levels per town or city. The first assessments of all nine provinces will be presented in an inaugural public report to be published in May.

‘Highest quality’ drinking water

The department reiterated its commitment to ensuring that South Africans are served with the highest quality drinking water, saying the country’s standards compare well with World Health Organisation limits, which have been adopted as standards for the European Union and other developed countries, including Canada and Australia.

“In spite of the many challenges we have to face, it is encouraging to note that we do have water service systems which record similar compliance levels as our counterparts in developed countries,” the department said.

SAinfo reporter

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