Thumbs up for South Africa's tap water
18 March 2010
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica says the world can rest assured that the tap water in all host cities for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ is safe to drink.
She was briefing the media in Cape Town this week, following the release of the 2010 Host Cities Drinking Water Quality Management Audit Report. The audit used the Blue Drop Certification System, an incentive-based regulation system which the department introduced in September 2008 to rate municipalities across the country.
All of the host cities scored 95% under the certification system and were awarded Blue Drop Status.
Johannesburg (98.39%) and Cape Town (98.18%) got the highest scores, while Rustenburg (95.1%), Port Elizabeth (95.08%) and Bloemfontein (95.05%) ranked the lowest.
The certification system looks at, among other things, water safety planning, and submission of credible information, asset management and incident management.
Ahead of the audit, a core group of Blue Drop assessors visited the UK's Drinking Water Inspectorate in October last year and the inspectorate also provided training for the assessors.
Improved drinking water quality
Over the last six months the country's overall South African drinking water quality was measured as 96%, an improvement over the 2009 Blue Drop Report when the country's towns and municipalities scored on average 93.3%.
Sonjica pointed out that South Africa still had safe tap water relative to other countries.
"You go to other countries and at the hotels there's a tag that's there - don't drink from the taps. We've never had that," said Sonjica, adding that South Africa had also had very few outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
However, she said this didn't mean one had to be complacent as the quality of water was constantly under threat by an increasing population, dilapidated infrastructure and pollution.
Sonjica said the department issued directives to those municipalities where the supply of water had become unsafe. These would be followed up by "strict monitoring" of the municipalities in question, but the department would also offer assistance to those towns that needed to improve their water standards.
Tariff increases, free basic water
She said South Africa was a water-scarce country and that a tariff increase may be "unavoidable", but she added that at this point an increase was not on the cards.
She said the department was still working on its tariff policy and until it had been completed a decision could not yet be made.
"But even if we get to that point we would look at a rising tariff as we have today, with a provision to cushion the poorest," she said, adding that the free basic provision of water would remain.