Mon, 29 Oct, 2012
Municipal spokesperson Mncedisi Boma on Monday reassured Grahamstown residents that the town's tap water was safe to drink, after rumours circulated via SMS and Facebook warning that the water was toxic and unfit to drink.
The municipality has dismissed these rumours, saying they are unfounded. "Makana Municipality would like to set the record straight and respond to a disturbing SMS and Facebook message circulating that indicates Makana tap water is toxic. It is not true. Makana tap water is not toxic," Boma said.
He said the municipality had asked the Department of Water Affairs for help after high levels of sediment in the dams, as a result of the recent floods, resulted in water outages. The pumps at the Waainek treatment plant were switched off as the facility struggled to produce and distribute drinkable water.
"The [experts] assisted us with dosage - the mixing of chemicals and measurements to meet the DWA's standards," Technical and Infrastructure Services director Thembinkosi Myalato added. "We can confirm that we have managed to meet the standard. We are doing daily jug tests and the results are telling us that the water is not contaminated at all."
Boma said the municipality took the rumours of substandard water quality very seriously and had brought in experts to do compliance tests. "We have further requested the Amatola Water Board to undertake some compliance monitoring tests (national standard tests). They are coming today [Monday] and they will provide us with quality results," Boma said.
He said the results would be ready within a day and that the municipality would circulate them.
An email sent to Rhodes University residence wardens on Saturday from Executive Director: Infrastructure, Operations and Finance Dr Iain L'Ange recommends that students should not drink tap water without taking additional precautions.
"Due to concerns which have been expressed about the quality of tap water on campus following the recent floods and water supply outages we are recommending that until further notice, tap water should not be used for drinking purposes without taking additional precautions," L'Ange wrote, recommending a combination of boiling and chemical disinfection.
The university also paid for residence students to receive 1.5 litres of water a day from a local retailer. "We will be working with the municipality to establish whether there is any cause for concern," the email continues.
The Institute for Water Research (IWR) at Rhodes University when contacted on Monday said they were not aware of the rumours.
Meanwhile, municipal workers are fixing potholes in the Makana's flood-damaged roads. "We are busy progressing with interventions on critical areas," Myalato said. "We are also going to use our competent local contractors to do help with the emergency work that needs to be done. We are attending to the risk areas and we have been given authority by council to make a virement from the capital budget to fix those risk areas while we are waiting for assistance from Cacadu municipality."
He said the special funds transfer, on the basis of Makana's disaster area status, would amount to around R2 million. On Friday some areas in Grahamstown still had no water. Myalato told Grocott's Mail that the water levels at the Waainek Reservoir were very low - 20% on Friday morning. The water was back on Saturday morning. Myalato said the municipality's Disaster Unit was still assisting the community by handing out blankets.