5 December 2007
Unlike most destinations where tourists have to buy bottled water, South Africa’s tap water is of high quality and compares favourably with that of leading industrialised nations, leaving visitors with extra money to spend elsewhere.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s technical regulation director, Leonardo Manus, told BuaNews this week that according to guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation, South Africa compared favourable with countries such as Canada, which is a world leader in managing the quality of tap water.
“We we have great confidence in the quality of the tap water reticulated in our cities and bigger towns,” Manus said.
Manus noted, however, that more work needed to be done before the department could claim the same level of confidence in the rural areas and smaller towns in the country.
“This is due to the fact that some of our communities are not connected to systems that provide treated water, due to some historic disadvantages and a lack of technical capacity at smaller municipalities,” he said.
He said the department had taken various steps to ensure that a “preventative culture” was adopted in the management of drinking water quality.
“As part of the 2010 World Cup preparations, the department is joining hands with the host cities and towns to get water safety and security plans in place to ensure that the municipalities are prepared for the occurrence of drinking water quality failures,” Manus said, adding that this would also help in putting early warning mechanisms in place.
Sue Freese of the Water Institute for Southern Africa said the reason for the country’s clean water was because of the existing infrastructure, which was properly maintained.
“South Africa has a good maintenance programme in place to avoid decay, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is helpful in implementing drinking water qualification regulations to water authorities,” Freese said.